A review of side effects and complications
with cannabinoid treatment

Radbruch L, Nauck F.
Klinik fur Palliativmedizin,
Universitatsklinikum Aachen.
Schmerz. 2003 Aug;17(4):274-9


In the last few years, the use of cannabinoids has been advocated for several indications, and evaluation of the side effect profile is necessary. Euphoric mood changes are among the most frequent side effects, while dysphoric reactions are less frequent. Triggering of acute psychotic episodes has been reported. Cannabinoids can initiate or exacerbate schizophrenic psychosis in predisposed persons. Cannabinoids impede cognitive and psychomotor performance, resulting in impaired driving ability. Chronic use can lead to the development of tolerance. Tachycardia and hypotension frequently are documented as adverse events in the cardiovascular system. A few cases of myocardial ischemia have been reported in young and previously healthy patients. Side effects on the respiratory system are induced by inhaling the smoke of cannabis cigarettes. Some reports have indicated a carcinogenic risk for the children when cannabis was used during pregnancy. In summary, a low risk profile is evident from the literature available. Life-threatening complications are very rare and were not reported after use of cannabinoids for medical indications. Cannabinoids are contraindicated during pregnancy or for patients with a history of cardiac ischemias.

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