An RCT of cannabinoid replacement therapy (Sativex®) for the management of treatment-resistant cannabis dependent patients

August 2015

NDARC staff: Professor Jan Copeland, Dr. Marian Shanahan

Other investigators: 

This research is being led by Associate Professor Nicholas Lintzeris, University of Sydney

Doctor David Allsop, University of Sydney

Professor Iain McGregor, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Adrian Dunlop, Hunter New England Local Health District

Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno, University of Tasmania

Project description: 

This project proposes the first-ever outpatient RCT to test the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of the pharmaceutical cannabinoid nabiximols (Sativex®) for treating cannabis dependence.

This study builds upon recent work by this team demonstrating the safety and efficacy of Sativex in treating inpatient cannabis withdrawal. However chronic addictive disorders are usually associated with high relapse rates following withdrawal, and longer term treatment models that integrate medication and counselling approaches are required. 

We aim to develop an effective agonist replacement therapy for treating severe cannabis dependent persons who have not responded to standard interventions. Current best practice in cannabis treatment involves psychotherapy, which leaves some 80% of people who seek help locked in a spiral of dependence and relapse.