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Medical Marijuana & Tourette Syndrome

In Pennsylvania, Tourette Syndrome is included in the Department of Health's qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.

May 18, 2023
Dr. Stan, Dr. Maunee and Dr. Robin


Tourette Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the brain and nerves. It causes a person to make sudden unwanted involuntary moves or sounds called "tics." Tourette Syndrome symptoms can manifest as both motor and vocal tics. Motor tics may include facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, eye blinking, or more significant movements such as jumping or shaking arms. Vocal tics can occur as grunts, shouting, or repeating phrases out of context. Tourette Syndrome occurs in about 1 in 160 children. Onset most often occurs from age 5 to 7 and peaks at age 12. Symptoms usually improve as patients move into adulthood.

Tourette Syndrome can have wide-ranging effects on a patient's physical, mental, and emotional well-being, which in turn can negatively affect their health, education, family, and friendships. They may also have co-occurring conditions like ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Due to Tourette Syndrome’s wide-ranging effects and potential impact on a patient’s quality of life, it is essential to find symptom relief.


Currently, there are no known curative or preventative treatments. The treatment options available focus on symptom improvement. Only three current medications in the United States are FDA approved for treating Tourette Syndrome. However, many medications are used "off-label" to decrease symptoms. The medication classes often utilized are antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, SSRIs, dopamine-depleting agents, and muscle relaxants. They provide limited benefits and can have significant side effects, which leads patients to find alternative relief.


Small scientific studies, patient experience, and a few anecdotal case reports have shown that medical marijuana, specifically THC, may help reduce symptoms. Interestingly, CBD alone has not shown promise in improving symptoms. However, when adding CBD with THC, there may be a more significant improvement in symptom relief.

Currently, medical cannabis is used for symptom treatment in Tourette Syndrome in Israel, Germany, and Canada. In Pennsylvania, Tourette Syndrome is included in the Department of Health's qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.

If you want to learn more about how medical marijuana can complement your current Tourette Syndrome treatment plan, please talk to your doctor.

If you think medical marijuana treatments could be right for you, we’re here to help you take the first steps on your patient journey.


  1. What is Tourette? Tourette Association of America. Accessed April 28, 2023.
  2. Medical Marijuana TAA Position Statement on the Use of Medical Marijuana for Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Association of America. Accessed April 28, 2023.
  3. Müller-Vahl KR. Treatment of Tourette syndrome with cannabinoids. Behav Neurol. 2013;27(1):119-24. doi: 10.3233/BEN-120276. PMID: 23187140; PMCID: PMC5215298.
  4. Szejko N, Saramak K, Lombroso A, Müller-Vahl K. Cannabis-based medicine in treatment of patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Neurol Neurochir Pol. 2022;56(1):28-38. doi: 10.5603/PJNNS.a2021.0081. Epub 2021 Oct 28. PMID: 34708399.

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