Medical cannabis and synthetic cannabis extracts should not be used for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine .
Until there is have further evidence on the effectiveness of medical cannabis for the treatment of sleep apnea, and until its safety profile is proven, patients should deliberate proven treatment options with an approved medical provider at an accredited sleep facility.
Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disease that involves the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Common warning signs include snoring and extreme daytime sleepiness. After early animal studies established that the synthetic cannabis extract dronabinol enhanced respiratory stability, recent studies in humans have explored the potential use of dronabinol as an alternative treatment for sleep apnea.
However, dronabinol has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of sleep apnea, and its long-term tolerability and safety are still unknown. Additionally, there have been no studies of the safety and effectiveness of other delivery methods such as vaping or liquid formulation. Treatment with the use of medical cannabis also has exposed adverse effects such as daytime sleepiness, which may lead to unintentional consequences such as motor vehicle accidents.
So until there is adequate scientific proof of safety and efficacy, neither cannabis nor synthetic medical cannabis should be used for the treatment of sleep apnea. Real and safe treatments for sleep apnea are accessible from licensed medical providers at accredited sleep facilities.