The nation’s leading sleep medicine group is opposing the use of medical cannabis and synthetic marijuana extracts for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Late last year, the Minnesota Department of Health announced that OSA would be added to the state’s medical cannabis program list of chronic medical conditions.
But in a newly published position statement, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) took issue with the move, concluding that OSA should be excluded from all state medical cannabis programs lists due to unreliable cannabis delivery methods and “insufficient evidence of treatment effectiveness, tolerability and safety.”
The position statement was published in the April 15 issue of the AASM’s Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
“Until there is sufficient scientific evidence of safety and efficacy, neither marijuana nor synthetic medical cannabis should be used for the treatment of sleep apnea,” AASM president Ilene Rosen, MD, noted in a press release.
The position statement, which was written by the AASM board of directors, called the Minnesota action on OSA “concerning” given that the research cited in the decision was limited to proof-of-concept and pilot studies.
“The duration of these studies was only 3-6 weeks, and therefore the long-term effects of use of these medical cannabis products and the effect on OSA is unknown at the time,” wrote sleep medicine specialist Kannan Ramar, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues. “Also, treatment with the use of medical cannabis has shown adverse effects such as daytime sleepiness and may lead to unintended consequences such as motor vehicle accidents.”
The statement noted that the studies to date have been largely confined to examining the impact of the synthetic cannabis extract dronabinol on sleep apnea symptoms.
“Dronabinol is one of the many synthetic medical cannabis extracts,” the board of directors noted. “The