Can Marijuana Cause Seizures?

Having seizures, whatever the underlying cause, can be really frightening. There are different reasons a person might have seizures, and people without epilepsy can have them.

There has been an increasing amount of research coming out about potential links between marijuana and seizures, so what should you know? Can marijuana cause seizures, or can it help them?

The following provides an overview of what seizures are, and what to know about the relationship between marijuana and seizures.

Marijuana and Seizures | Can Marijuana Cause Seizures?

A seizure occurs when someone has abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and it’s often confused with a convulsion. With a convulsion, someone will have uncontrollable shaking as muscles continuously contract and relax.

Seizures can be difficult to spot in some people, and sometimes they’re as simple as being unable to break your stare for a period of time. This kind of seizure is often completely unnoticed. The specific symptoms of a seizure vary depending on what part of the brain is affected.

Some of the many symptoms can include a blackout followed by a convulsion, odd changes in behavior, drooling, eye movement, grunting or making other strange sounds, loss of bladder and bowel control, mood changes and shaking. Other symptoms may include clenching your teeth, falling suddenly, temporarily not breathing or having uncontrollable muscle spasms.

For people who experience seizures, they may have warning symptoms before it occurs, like nausea, vertigo or a sense of anxiety or fear.

There are many reasons a seizure can occur, including abnormalities in the level of sodium or glucose in the blood, a brain infection, brain injury or congenital brain defects, and drug abuse. A few of the many other things that can lead to a seizure include a fever in young children, epilepsy, high fever, stroke, and very high blood pressure. People who are physically dependent on alcohol may also experience seizures if they stop drinking suddenly.

So, what about marijuana and seizures? Can marijuana cause seizures? It seems like the evidence is pointing in the opposite direction and marijuana may actually help people with seizures, and below are more details.

As was touched on above, drug abuse, particularly with stimulants, can cause seizures, but what about marijuana and seizures? People frequently ask “can marijuana cause seizures,” and they ask this because other substances can, but that might not be the case with marijuana.

Marijuana may actually hold the key to some relief for people with seizures based on relatively new research.

Up until some newer research came out, what we knew about marijuana and seizures was based primarily on antidotal evidence. People felt that marijuana, and in particular cannabidiol which is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, was helping to reduce symptoms of epilepsy.

Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine that highlighted the most rigorous scientific study to date showed that with marijuana and seizures, cannabidiol or CBD might be an effective anti-seizure agent.

The research has been so promising that more is being done to look into the potentially beneficial links between marijuana and seizures, or more particularly, CBD and seizures.
There was also research gathered by cannabis clinicians in Maine, Washington, and Wisconsin, and their findings were reported in a peer-reviewed article showing the unique advantages of marijuana and seizures relationship to one another. In the overwhelming majority of the patients they looked at, there was at least some level of seizure reduction seen with the use of medical cannabis, and in some patients, seizures were completely in remission.

Despite the positive benefits of marijuana and seizures, there are problems that are faced as well. For example, there’s currently to national regulation or guidelines dictating how marijuana should be manufactured and dispensed for medicinal purposes. It can also be relatively expensive as a treatment option, and of course, the use of marijuana is illegal in many states.

These are things that are likely to be looked at as researchers continue their work on marijuana and seizures.

Seizures can be caused by a number of factors, one of which is substance abuse. Because of this, a commonly asked question is “can marijuana cause seizures.” Many people who use various drugs, including stimulants, do experience drug-induced seizures, but this isn’t the case with marijuana.

Rather than causing seizures, marijuana may have therapeutic benefits for people with epilepsy and other seizure-related conditions.

There continues to be a lot of work done on marijuana and seizures, but there’s something important to note here. First, it’s the CBD in marijuana that seems to be most beneficial for treating seizures, and this isn’t psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t make you high. Also, you shouldn’t try to self-medicate with marijuana when you have seizures. This is something that should be discussed with your doctor first and foremost, despite the fact that it does look like there are benefits for marijuana and seizures on the horizon.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.