Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Marijuana treatment for ADD ADHD

I would like to share this article that came up about replacing Ritalin with Marijuana! 

Although I can understand where the researcher is coming from concerning marijuana, I do not agree with this type of therapy for adults and especially not for children. I have personally seen what daily intake of marijuana can do to a person over time and although marijuana is probably beneficial to someone being treated for a terminal and painful disease, it can be terribly destructive to others. I believe there are side effects and dire consequences to daily (Street) marijuana use. Furthermore, many who use it seek harder stuff eventually, not always, but the risk is there – why get anyone started on it at all? That’s just what I think and believe and also believe the research is valuable, but there must be other ways and methods.  

Since I originally posted this article, many things have changed and there is now more research available. I closed the comments on this post; however, this topic is continued on our ADHD Social Network. Here is a direct link to the thread for this topic on Medical Cannabis for ADHD You may post relevant links to research and voice your opinion/experience.


Tara McGillicuddy February 10, 2008 at 11:26 pm

This MSNBC video segememt is really misleading. Up until the the very end it leads people to think they are talking about smoking Marijuana. They failed to mention that smoking Marijuana has a very negative effect on teens and adult with ADHD.

David Parry February 18, 2008 at 4:59 pm

I think what most people forget when looking at marijuana as a medicine is how differently it effects differnt individuals. I personally find pot to have been a huge help in focusing during school, maybe some may find it to distracting but for me it has done nothing but helped me. Please avoid statements like “They failed to mention that smoking Marijuana has a very negative effect on teens and adult with ADHD” or at least recognize the huge help THC has empowered many people with.

Bryan February 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Thanks for your comment David. In most places MRW is illegal, so not sure where you are from, but I am glad you are doing okay. Having lived a long while in Europe I know many, many people who have used MRW and most claim it is great and helps them, but many of them have lost their jobs, can’t hold a job and lost a lot more due to MRW use. I have not met anyone who has managed well over any long period of time using the stuff… and I am half dutch, so I know a lot of people who have used it, a lot… However, I am not a doctor and if your doing okay, that’s fine with me, just be careful please…

Jane March 5, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Wow, I have to agree with Bryan and Tara. I have had several family members including my own mother start their roads to destruction with marijuana. I think the problem is that although the pediatrician in the video is talking about putting this in small measured doses in cookies or peanut butter, the vast majority of teens given permission to use marijuana are going to get stoned at least once experimenting with the “dosage”….Is it just me or did that pediatrician seem to be under the influence? She was very very verrrryyyy relaxed. I tend to think in other countries this may become an option but not in America. I personally dont want my airline pilot to have been taking marijuana cookies since childhood. Would that be an issue? Would children who were given this “treatment” now be forbidden from those careers which drug test? So what is left for them? Working at McDonalds?

Jack Hood March 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm

What you people who are against this aren’t reliesing is that this marijuana treatment is not having the patients smoke the drug. When you bring up not managing well over long periods of time and negative THC affects you aren’t considering the way it is taken and the amount given. The marijuana that is prescribed to ADD/ADHD patients is a controlled amount that is enough to calm the body, and give you a clear head on things without intoxicating you or giving you these “stoner” symptoms. Never the less, the way they prescribe it is by having the herb grinded up into a cookie, and served with your lunch or breakfast. Smoking the drug gives different/worse affects to the user. This is where you can make the argument that it is a terrible idea. If you respect the herb, and use it only to your benefit, not abusing it in my opinion there is nothing wrong here.

Bryan March 19, 2008 at 8:37 am

Hi Jack,

People have been taking in all levels of Marijuana for a long, long time in cookies, cakes, drinks and smoking it. Some would say that eating and drinking Marijuana is more powerful than smoking it. However, we would have to review clinical studies to understand better the way doctors intend to use the drug.


Amber Lynn April 8, 2008 at 7:58 pm

No, you people’s head are full of air, ADD and ADHD patiens are perscribes all kinds of STIMULANTS in order to help their condition, marijuana is the exact opposite!!!

Eric April 22, 2008 at 8:54 pm

As a kid i was forcefed those ADHD stimulant meds(concerta), i hated the way they made me feel(miserable), i would completely lose my appetite and eventually i started faking that i was taking them. After adopting cannabis into my life I raised my gpa from a 3.0 to 3.8 (this is engineering if your wondering) and everything seemed to fall into place. Its not addictive and in my opinion it is the silver bullet for me. It affects everyone differently and it is very insulting when people discard this medicine because of Reefer Madness. How do you discount something that hasnt even had a chance to be formally researched. Sorry if i come off cranky but im sick of people talking about the subject like they have a clue when they don’t.

To amber lynn,
Calling cannabis a deppressant is ignorant because it clearly is neither a stimulant or a deppressent. It actually affects your “middle brain” which is a different part of your brain than stimulants and depressants. You’re the person who has their head filled with air because you are ignorant to the subject.

Eric April 22, 2008 at 8:58 pm

About the moving on to harder stuff, if they treated cannabis like alcohol and tobacco it would elimate it being a “gateway drug”. The reason it is a gateway drug is because humans are forced to deal with shady drug pushers to get their cannabis. Cannabis is healthier and safer than both of the above, its to bad most americans won’t find this out until they learn to research on their own.

Rob Rosano_medical student April 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm

I am going to agree with many of the positive users here. THC has many potential uses for the human brain however often times when it is discussed we tend to think of it in an overdosed scene. If you smoke a join you are overdosing, if you eat hash brownies you are overdosing. As the expression goes “there’s a fine line between therapeutic and overdose” What we need to do is realize that if small amounts of THC are released into a person with ADD/ADHD it can be beneficial. When looking at drugs such as adderal we find that they are dopamine stimulants/uptake inhibitors. While you many see a positive change in their behavior you must realize that drugs such as adderal Ritalin are amphetpimnes. Over time this will begin to effect there serotonin system which can regulate depression. How many of you see a bad change in you Childs behavior associated with their ADD/ADHD medication? The reason is because their body wants the meds more than anything else; and that’s why at night they become a “monster” or antisocial at night. How many of them complain about sweaty palms and feeling anxious? The reason people advocate for the use of TCH in ADD/ADHD treatment is because it controls the anxiety associated with the disorders. Having suffered from ADD/ADHD my entire life I was put on drugs such as adderal and had to say the lease bad experiences. First they didn’t help with my ADD and at night the only thing I wanted to do was play video games and be in my own world. I didn’t care about school and I always felt angry. After being off the meds for a year I have totally changed my life. This all is really hard to explain in a forum but if you have any questions I would be more than happy to exchange e-mails and talk. Please I know what your kids are going through because I was there not to long ago.

Jay April 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Kudos Erik and Rob! I have a similar story regarding treatment of ADD with cannibis. In accordance I feel you’re on point. Many people do not research enough about any particular subject before putting in their two cents. FYI and active component found in cannibis is also naturally found within the human body (cannabinoids). Adderall and similar stimulants are mere band-aids. Let me rephrase that, said stimulants are band-aids laced with MSRA. These meds are silent killers manifesting themselves in depression, heart problems, and more seriously strokes and seizures. Get your kids off the meds because over time the meds win out not your loved ones. Read more talk less.

Bryan May 1, 2008 at 4:45 am

Are you guys taking this stuff legally? And is it in any kind of manner monitored by a doctor? I do agree with some of what has been written. However, I have never met anyone yet who takes MJ and complains about it. The stuff seems to feel good and that’s part of its appeal.

I have lived in Holland and I know countless people who have taken MJ over the years and never one complains, but very, very few of them make something of themselves and would never admit that it has ill affects towards their behavior and their ability to consider things.

I have a good friend who believed for a very long time that cannabis helped him focus and indeed, I think it did too, but the things he once considered and monitored went to the way side and he only focused on that which gave him pleasure. He lost everything and I do mean everything except his life. He is back on track and no longer on the drug and doing good. He’s not the only one I have seen this happen to. Too many and all would claim that the drug is good and helpful. That’s part of its appeal. This is why I have my belief and until it is proven otherwise, not just by comments, but rather by demonstration.

Like the lady said in the video she is talking to kids from the ‘street’ about their use. Anyone taking MJ will fight to the death to make it legal and seem okay. That’s just not a good study to consider it for medical use.

The good news is that MJ is probably better for the body than Tobacco and like I said before we need clinical studies to prove it has more worth, because yes it helps focus, very, very much, but none of you talk about the ‘good’ feeling of doing no wrong, the laughs, the giggles over nothing and the munchies. Not saying that’s bad, but there are also phases of paranoia and fear and imagining very bad things in clear detail.

Maybe this will turn out to be okay used in a specific way, but I would really like to know in what studies you guys have been involved in that you have this knowledge that it will work in the manner described? In what legal way have you used this drug for ADHD? I would like to read the research… Good comments!



Jay May 1, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Indeed you can misuse cannabis. What I refer to is administered in small doses. After all if I consume too much I am worthless. Likewise if I were to take too much Adderall or similar stimulants I would get “bugged out.”However, like everything in life there is a bell curve for which if you stay within the confines, at least for myself, cannabis is beneficial. To answer your question of legality I live in a conservative state therefor I am off the grid.

Rob May 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm

all of those effects such as the giggles munchies ect come from an overdosed form. if you slowly administer a cannaboid into the blood stream you will not have these negative effects. IE transindermal patch.

Bryan May 11, 2008 at 11:07 am

You could be right Rob. Do you have a link where they are doing trials with results? It would be interesting to read. I know many who are very passionate about this, but I have thus far read that those IE patches are used to increase hunger too, so the muchies would be a part of it – it would be great if all the affects could be controlled in all medication.

Should we test drive the IE transindermal patches on your next airplane pilot just to be sure? lol – just kidding, but would you?

Seriously though, you could be right.


Kris May 12, 2008 at 5:19 am

I found this all very interesting, and while I agree that unlimited, unrestricted, unsupervised access to marijuana can lead to some very negative side effects, I also believe that it should be given further research as a way to help those who suffer from ADD/ADHD/and RBS (racing brain syndrome).
In personal experience, I have used marijuana to help with my ADD, mainly because I don’t like the things I’ve read about, researched, etc, of the prescription drugs. (And even prescription drugs effect everyone differently.) But when I’ve used marijuana to medicate, it’s only one or two puffs, drags, whatever, to calm down the thoughts in my head so i can actually focus.
Like what’s been said in the other posts, it’s overdosing, constantly over-using it that’s the problem. But, in any case, in America it’s going to take a long, long time for anything useful to come of it. If anything ever does. Kind of sad really. If it ever does become a legal medication for ADD I probably won’t need it anymore.

collin August 18, 2008 at 7:03 am

3-5 drags off a joint or a couple hits off a bowl just seems to calm me down clear my head for school i went from failing grades to passing with flying colors but it really seems to help my ADD.

Mike September 3, 2008 at 4:57 am

I think it is really hard for people to think about treatment like this with a ‘clear mind’, without all of the baggage that comes along with cannabis (marijuana).

While many may very well know people that have had a hard time with smoking marijuana and turning into ‘user’, what you need to consider is that if they are smoking street marijuana. Due to its prohibition, it is grown and engineered to have a very high amount of THC to make the drugs street value higher per weight. Also by smoking it, it is hitting the body in a very strong way in completely uncontrolled dosages, which are certainly much higher than would be beneficial to help someone with a condition like this.

The current stimulant prescriptions like Adderall, that most patients take daily, carry far more potential danger than THC. As you know, stimulants are very dangerous at high doses and when taken in a street manner like marijuana, are often deadly. Methamphetamine, Adderall’s close cousin, has had disastrous effects on people when smoked/ injected or taken for non-medical purposes.

It is a shame that some people are genuinely finding help– from a natural source no less– but have to violate laws and rely on questionable street sources to do so. Particularly shameful because the main reason this isn’t being studied or accepted is because of generally accepted and unquestioned falsehoods, misconceptions and history related to cannabis.

TOB September 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Wow…..My son is ADHD and was diagnosed at 5years old; he is now 15years old we have used natural meds to treat his ADHD and never adderal or any other drug doctors wanted to put him on. His grades were always low but passing. He’s extreamly bright and has always been grown up for his age which has always made him out spoken and challenges authority especially when he knows they are incorrect about ANYTHING. My son has been using MJ for at least 2 years but, I just found out about it about a year ago; although I would prefer he did not use I have seen a huge change in his moods and anger. He is alot calmer, easier to talk with & his GPA has been at a 3.5 or better. My son knows how I feel about his use; being a child he thinks he knows it all. I don’t want him using MJ and at the same time I see a good change in him……..

Michele September 21, 2008 at 1:27 pm

I was diagnosed with ADHD at 43, and was prescribed Adderal. Nothing more than legal speed. Did it help me focus – you bet it did and it also removed my personality and there is no freakin’ way this stuff can be good for your heart. I hated it and the crazy thing is when people found out I had script for it, they wanted to buy it. Each that asked had a different reason – weight loss, need to study, etc. NONE of these people ever want my weed. When taking Adderal, people said I seemed different. When I smoke weed no one notices anything different about me, except me – I’m not ridden with anxiety, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I enjoy working and am not distracted by every thing in my path. The SPEED did nothing more than help me focus. It also exacerbated my anxiety and made it difficult for me to switch gears and multitask – I would get so focused on something that I’d get almost mad if I had to stop and do something else. If science proves that marijuana helps me, I know it helps me and I’m TELLING you that legal speed scares me and I hated how it made me feel! I know several people that say their Adderal script also enticed them to drink alcohol like a fish – it seems to make you bullet proof – this cannot be good. Ritalin is nothing more than legal cocaine. I am shocked that parents give any of this stuff to their kids. Marijuana is not a “gateway” drug. I am proof. While it may not be beneficial to people without a medical need, I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to try and deny me the one thing that DOES help me. Most people are oblivious to the fact that I smoke weed. Perhaps this is because I make more than 70,000.00/year. The stereotypes regarding marijuana use are ridiculous. YES there are users who are losers or dimwits. There are also many DRINKERS who are losers/idiots – and I’d venture to guess that there are far more of these………….

Raual September 24, 2008 at 10:08 am

I think, based on years of casual research, that the chemical cannabidiol (CBD) helps with ADD. THC is fun but has negative side effects.
I have been through a similar experience to those described here. Before I started using everyday I did poorly in school. I learned loads, and read more than was required; but my grades were horrid. I tried marijuana the first time before I started college; and have since become an every day user. A couple of semesters ago I stopped using marijuana and my grades went down (two Bs!). I started using it again and have maintained a 4.0.
The CBD is what calms us down to the point that we can switch data streams at will and utilize enhanced hyper focusing. Personally my reading speed doubles and my comprehension increases.
THC seems to be dangerous for long term use, but no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol. It does help foster out of control appetites. It does create paranoia. It does seem to have a causal relationship with mental illness later in life.
A strong mind can deal with the effects of THC in order to take advantage of CBD. But THC is addictive. Like I said it is fun. It amplifies our ability to “manipulate time.” It provides rapid-fire idea shifting and increased “out of the box” thinking.
What needs to be done is legalization and then an anti-abuse effort. Plants then need to be breed that produce only CBD.

Michael October 8, 2008 at 1:01 pm

It’s funny that because of the stigma placed on Marijuana in this country by the “Reefer Madness” generation, that only NOW is someone finally seeing the benefits of Medicinal Marijuana in ADD/ADHD/AADD.
I was placed on Ritalin at age 5 for severe ADHD. I was impulsive, aggressive and at times, violent. The Ritalin was effective in keeping me in my chair at school but it had lasting social effects. I was withdrawn, shy and overly self-aware. I didn’t like being a zombie but for 10 years was force-fed my little white pill.
As a teen, I quit taking it but as usual began my search (unbeknownst to me) for a replacement.
After trying every illegal drug known to man, Marijuana became my drug of choice. After a 9 year stint in the Military as a Non-Commissioned Officer I got out got my degree in Science and am now a successful Emergency Room Registed Nurse in a busy Veterans Hospital.
I will enroll next year to finish my Masters Degree. I am also a successful songwriter, Guitarist, Father, Christian, Brother and son.
Granted, there are unpleasant side-effects for it’s overuse but simply put the benefits, in this case and so many others, out-weigh the risks, even in a state where Marijuana remains illegal.
To me it’s no different than popping a Xanax, Valium or a number of other anti-anxiety meds. Most of which are highly addictive and more readily abused. A far as alcohol, I believe it’s already proven to be a much greater stain on our moral fiber than Marijuana.

jon November 7, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I am an adult with ADHD and was given this lable when i was 13. I started a health food diet, including zero sugar or artificial items. This seemed to work for the hyperactivity, but did nothing for the attention disorder. Up till this point my grades were bad. This is when the same health doctor recomended to my parents to try pot. With the combanation of health food and the natural drug marijuana i beat ADHD. I graduated top of my class in Grosse Pointe, and went on to study condensed matter physics becoming one of the smartest person in the state on bcc crystal structures. Everyone else I knew that took perscription drugs such as ritalin ended up working some crappy job like McDonalds. Its NEVER the DRUG, it YOU!! You can’t be someone your not no matter what any doctor gives you, you’ll alway be you.

Don K Potochny November 26, 2008 at 4:52 am

Marijuana should be analyzed on a case by case basis. In my case, it was the only self-medication method that diminished the distraction and hyperactive symptoms of undiagnosed ADHD.

The gateway drug is alcohol. ADHD stimulant medications have similar effects as cocaine. I would like to see the energy that is put into refuting marijuana be channeled into debunking the myth that ADHD stimulants are a panacea.

The ADHD establishment is all about black and white. Marijuana is a gray area that works for some people. Discounting its positive effect is a disservice to those who thrive using the drug.


Andre' November 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm

I’ve read all the comments here and to all that are for it medicinally, kudos. What we are missing is what Don stated. It should be done on a case by case basis and also the different strains as well. I wasn’t diagnosed with add until this past year and have been living with it all this time with no proper diagnosis until now. When I was 22 I smoked my first joint and what a difference, no anxiety, better focus and appetite. I admit smoking recreationally is bad and like any other medication it is not for everyone. We fail to realize that this is a natural not man made medication that deserves it’s due. I’ve personally researched it for the last five years and have found different strains play different roles. All the meds that I have seen for treatment and their side effects still make me more leary on taking them than the effects of mj. As said before if used properly and controlled it can be beneficial, the problem is the perception of it not the reality.


Barb December 8, 2008 at 3:04 am

I admit that many of my best ideas come to me after a puff or two. It seems to help me focus – really! And even though more mundane tasks may suffer, my primary creative work benefits tremendously :-)

Jeff February 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm

More anecdotal support for Weed.
I’m 40-ish, and have been diagnosed at one time or another with clinical depression, ADHD, anxiety disorder and bi-polar disorder. Failed out of college. Did a lot of talk therapy and was proscribed a number of drugs in my twenties. Never kept up with the meds, but the talk therapy cleared up my head pretty good by the time I was thirty.

I had used pot recreationally since I was 17, once or twice a week with a couple of two year stints of abstinence, and a few 3-6 week periods of daily use.

I had given it up for a couple of years when, at thirty five, I went back to school (architecture in a top-tier program). Halfway through the first semester the old anxiety returned. It kind of smothered my natural enthusiasm for learning, and school started sucking. So I took to smoking every day before class, telling myself it might make an unpleasant experience more enjoyable.

Long story short, I graduated a stoner with honors. The degree required a long string of 60-75 hour work weeks under a tremendous amount of pressure, and marijuana helped me sustain focus for the grind. I admit that weed likely gave me an unfair advantage in a competitive program.

Now I am enjoying a rewarding second career working on relevant projects. Work should dry up soon (recession and all), but I have hedged my bets with graduate school applications and fully expect a masters with honors from a top school in time for the recovery.

I don’t smoke at work because that would freak me out. But I smoke at home – only a couple of hits a night, but then, with today’s weed a couple of hits is all it takes. I don’t pretend it’s not “abuse” because I smoke to get high. Still, positive effects carry over into the next day. I’m more settled (“fuzzy” or “slow” if you want to put a negative spin on it), and my work suffers if I haven’t smoked the night before. That may be a symptom of addiction, and it may be the marijuana working on my latent whatever-you-want-to-call-the-disorder.

Negative side effects of my daily use include some memory loss and weakened verbal acuity. The verbal slacking off might be related to the fact that I’ve shifted to a visual/spatial career. While I recently managed a 98th percentile on the GRE, that was down from my SAT scores of twenty years ago, but that may be attributed to the fact that kids are generally smarter than preceding generations. Regardless, for me the side effects of long-term use are well worth the positives (I get high and have a happy life).

I’m (very) happily married ten years. My wife has been with me through times of complete sobriety, casual use and daily use. She likes all three states, but notes that it’s a difficult couple of weeks when I transition between them. We don’t want kids, but consider that we may in the near future. In that case, my quitting is definitely on the table, and we discuss the pros and cons openly.

For those of you looking for relevant scientific studies to support the wealth of anecdotal evidence, good luck. A friend of mine runs a cancer research center at a large state university. He laments that there is simply no money out there for cannabis research, and he doesn’t expect it to appear any time soon.

Look at it this way. Medical research is market driven. The market for cannabis has been stable for at least 5,000 years. Whether or not it’s illegal, its a weed. It grows. If it helps somebody, they’ll use it. But there won’t be a government grant anytime soon, and no company would ever recoup its investment in research because they can’t compete with low street prices. I over-medicate in a big way for about $400 a year (it works out to a little more because sometimes I smoke my friends out). I could use at a “responsible” level, alleviating the symptoms of my disorder without getting high, for about $10 a month. I could grow it for free.

Who’s going to pay for a double blind study? If there had been one twenty years ago I would have thought to use pot differently, never bought any of that prozac, ritalin, zoloft or Xanax, and had a happy life a lot sooner. What pharmaceutical company wants to see that?

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