Medical Cannabis for Texans with Dementia

Medical Cannabis for Texans with Dementia
Medical Cannabis for Texans with Dementia

Did you know that June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 400,000 Texans are living with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer's and many other incurable neurodegenerative diseases are considered qualifying conditions under the Texas Compassionate Use Program. This means that Texans suffering from an incurable neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s are legally allowed to use physician-prescribed medical cannabis to help relieve their symptoms.  

What Are Examples of Incurable Neurodegenerative Diseases? 

Some examples of incurable neurodegenerative diseases include Motor neuron disease, Muscular dystrophies and Dementia, which is a term that can be used to describe a myriad of diseases that impair brain function and disrupt daily activities.   

What is Dementia? 

Merriam-Webster defines dementia as a progressive condition marked by the development of multiple cognitive deficits. (, 2024) Dementia involves a decline in memory and other cognitive skills severe enough to disrupt a person's daily activities. Thinking, memory and reasoning are affected and will worsen with time as dementia is a progressive disease. 

What Are the Different Types of Dementia? 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and is caused by changes in the brain, brought on by protein buildups of amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of alpha-synuclein protein called Lewy bodies. Vascular dementia is caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or block the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. Frontotemporal dementia is rare and unlike other types of dementia, it typically affects people under 60. Similarly to Alzheimer’s, Frontotemporal dementia is caused by abnormal amounts of tau protein and TDP-43.  

Patients with dementia commonly experience symptoms, such as:  

  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Issues with expressing ideas and thoughts
  • Speech and comprehension become difficult  
  • Sleep issues like Sundowners 
  • Hallucinating, delusions and paranoia 
  • Loss of balance and normal mobility 
  • Wandering and easily getting lost 
  • Body rigidity  
  • Agitation/aggression 

How Can Medical Cannabis Help Dementia Patients? 

To date, research on cannabis use for dementia symptoms seems promising, with one study in 2023 citing caregivers seeing noticeable improvement in their patients with severe dementia symptoms that include agitation, aggression, irritability, anxiety and insomnia after using commercial dispensary-obtained THC. (1)  

In 2022, a group of researchers in Switzerland conducted a study to learn about the feasibility and long-term safety of administering THC and CBD as an additional drug to 19 poly medicated patients with severe dementia living in a long-term care facility. Results showed that long-term THC/CBD medication could be administered safely and with "positive clinical improvement". (2)   

Another 2022 study from Australia found strong evidence that medical cannabis potentially acts as a neuroprotectant, which could protect against amyloid plaque, the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. (3) 


1. Sawicki, Samantha M. Sawicki M, et al. THC for Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia, J Clin Psychiatry 2023;84(6):23m14791, 18 Sept. 2023,,CONCLUSIONS,lability%2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20insomnia. 

2. Pautex, Sophie, et al. “Cannabinoids for Behavioral Symptoms in Severe Dementia.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, University of Geneva, 29 Sept. 2022, 

3. “Evaluating Cannabis Sativa L.’s Neuroprotection Potential: From Bench to Bedside.” Phytomedicine, Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Biomedicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 29 Sept. 2022, 
4. Lanctôt, Krista. “Clearing the Air about Cannabis and Dementia.” Https://Alzheimer.Ca/, 24 June 2018, 

What Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms Can Medical Marijuana Help? 

Medical cannabis may help alleviate several symptoms that are common for patients with dementia, such as:

  • Agitation/aggression
  • Insomnia
  • Body rigidity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neuropathic pain 

Does Dementia Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Texas?  

Yes, Alzheimer’s and other Dementias qualify for medical marijuana treatment in Texas under the Compassionate Use Program. Click the button below to learn more about medical cannabis in Texas and how to get a prescription.