Cannabis in ADHD

Published: 18.04.2023 (Updated: 21.07.2023)
Reading time: Min.
Dr. Harald Stephan
Dr. rer. medic. Harald Stephan
Health expert

Cannabis for ADHD: is it even possible to treat ADHD with cannabis?

Cannabis for ADHD is supposed to help alleviate the symptoms of the disorder. The use of medicinal cannabis for ADHD has become an option for treatment in Germany. However, the central ADHD network points out that the risks are higher than the effects.

To be able to treat ADHD with cannabis, you need the support of your doctor. He or she can give you a prescription. Whereas in the past you had to get an exemption, this is no longer necessary. Find out more about how cannabis is supposed to work and what influence it can have on ADHD.

The most important facts in brief

  • Due to a legal regulation from 2017, it is generally possible to use cannabis in ADHD therapy if other therapies do not work.
  • Cannabis must be prescribed by a doctor on prescription. Only in this way is it possible to obtain medical cannabis in a legal way for the treatment of ADHD.
  • Surveys have shown that the benefits of cannabis for ADHD are less than the negative effects on the body.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a medicinal plant that has become known in Germany mainly as a narcotic. Originally, the plant comes from India. The plant contains a psychoactive substance that has become known as tetrahydrocannabinol. Often, only the abbreviation "THC" is used. THC turns cannabis into an intoxicant.

When talking about cannabis, several terms come into play. Among others, people speak of:

  • Hashish: Hashish is the term for dope or also for "pot" and is obtained from the resins of the plants. The resin is only taken from the female plants. It is found in the glandular hairs.
  • Marijuana: When the flowers, leaves and stems of cannabis are dried and crushed, marijuana is produced.

What is the difference between cannabis and CBD?

The use of the terms "cannabis" and CBD in connection is also confusing, as they often mean the same thing. However, they are different variants. Both are cannabinoids. However, while cannabis, or THC, can influence perception, CBD does not have this property.

It is interesting for you to know that there are more than one hundred different substances in a hemp plant. Numerous chemical compounds are also present. These are called cannabinoids. The best known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

To give you a better overview of the differences, you will find a table with the properties below:

Cannabis Cannabidiol
- Also known as THC - Also known as CBD
- Binding to CB1 receptors - Binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors
- Can influence perception - No influence on perception
- Partially triggers depression - May have a mood-lifting effect
- impairs the ability to concentrate - may have an antispasmodic effect
- recognised as a medicinal product - medicinal cannabis

Which cannabis strain for ADHD?

The use of medicinal cannabis is recommended for ADHD. This is CBD. It is not to be confused with THC, which is recognised as a medicine in Germany and can be used, for example, for multiple sclerosis. However, there are also forms of therapy in which THC is used to treat ADHD.

What is cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol is also known as CBD and is an antagonist of THC. For this reason, the two substances must be clearly distinguished in terms of their effectiveness. While THC can have an effect on the patient's perception, CBD does not have this property. Interesting is the fact that CBD can even be used to counteract the state of intoxication triggered by THC. A particularly concentrated form of CBD flowers are our CBD Moon Rocks.

Cannabis for ADHD - what is the current legal situation in Germany?

In Germany, insured persons who have the disorder in a severe stage are entitled to be treated with cannabis. This is prescribed in the form of dried leaves. It is also possible to dispense medicines containing the active ingredient nabilone or dronabilone.

It is important to know that cannabis can only be prescribed if there are no other therapeutic options for the patient or if both side effect and effect are in a ratio that is considered reasonable. In addition, the doctor must be able to prove that the therapy with cannabis can result in a positive effect.

The ADHS Deutschland e.V. comments on this issue and points out that the legal requirements leave open when cannabis can be used for ADHD. However, the association notes that there is an effective standard therapy for ADHD and that the use of cannabis for ADHD therefore normally has no basis.

There have already been court decisions on this issue, as a patient sued. His health insurance did not want to cover the costs for a therapy with CBD for ADHD. The court agreed with the health insurance company. It was noted here that cannabis may only be used for serious illnesses and should not be used to alleviate everyday difficulties.

Background: What you should know about cannabis for ADHD

If you are thinking about asking your doctor about cannabis therapy for ADHD, it is especially important that you are well informed.

Are children allowed to use cannabis for ADHD?

There is no official ban on the use of cannabis for ADHD treatment in children. With the new regulation from March 2017, it is in principle possible for a doctor to prescribe cannabis for ADHD therapy. However, the focus here is on adult patients.

Studies on the treatment of ADHD in children with cannabis do not exist yet. Since no data are available, the doctor must decide for himself whether he can justify the use of cannabis in adolescents and children. In addition, it is not clear whether the costs are covered by the health insurance if other therapy options could be used.

It must also be taken into account that cannabis used with children and adolescents can have a negative effect on their development. Possible side effects are:

  • Disturbances in the brain
  • Influence on intelligence development
  • Risk for anxiety disorders
  • Risk for depression

Is CBD for ADHD available on prescription?

In principle, it is possible for a doctor to prescribe cannabis to a patient suffering from ADHD. However, the legal situation in Germany regarding the prescription of cannabis is rather vague. This means that ultimately the health insurance companies decide whether they will cover the costs of the prescription.

It must be proven that no other therapy for ADHD is effective for CBD to be prescribed. The medical journal already points out that the drug can only be prescribed in cases of severe illness.

Who gets prescribed medical cannabis?

The doctor decides whether a prescription for medical cannabis is issued. Basically, the law only provides for therapy in cases of serious illnesses for which other therapeutic approaches are no longer effective.

So whether you can work with cannabis as an ADHD patient depends, among other things, on which therapies you have undergone so far and how successful the therapies are. However, there are often differences with the health insurance companies, especially with regard to the assumption of costs. Therefore, the prescription of cannabis for ADHD is still a topic that is also treated cautiously by doctors.

Medizinisches Cannabis

What dosage of cannabis?

The question of the dosage when using cannabis for ADHD is particularly interesting. You can get the active substance in Germany in different dosages and forms. It is offered in the form of capsules, flowers or sprays. There are no clear guidelines on dosage.

Franjo Grotenhermen gave some advice on dosage. He suggested that cannabis therapy for ADHD should first be carried out with a cannabis flos that is rich in THC. The preparation is inhaled.

The advantage of this is that one can start with a low dosage. This way, it can be determined whether the patient tolerates the therapy well. The next step is then the use of a drug in which the content of THC and CBD is balanced.

Note: Tolerance can develop with cannabis. This means that your body gets used to the active substance and it becomes necessary to increase the dose. This should be taken into account in the therapy.

Are there side effects with cannabis?

Even though the side effects of cannabis are manageable, they can overshadow the positive effect of the active substance in ADHD. To be expected are:

  • Alternation of euphoria and moodiness
  • Reduced cognitive performance
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Feeling of loss of control
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

If you experience these side effects during therapy, it is important that you contact your doctor directly. He or she can then adjust the dosage.

Is cannabis addictive?

In principle, there is a possibility that a dependence on cannabis may develop. However, in the context of a therapy with the medicinal plant, the dosage is strongly weighed up. If cannabis is taken to achieve states of intoxication, the potential for dependence is particularly high.

Medical cannabis, however, is taken in a different dosage. Therefore, there is no evidence so far that dependence and withdrawal symptoms have occurred in patients.

Is there a development of tolerance to cannabis?

Yes, a development of tolerance to cannabis can be observed. This refers to different fields of action of the medicinal plant. Therefore, it is to be expected that the dose has to be increased at certain intervals in the course of a long-term therapy.

In close consultation with your doctor, he or she will draw up a plan for the dose you will start with and how it will be increased. If you notice any physical or psychological changes during the course of treatment, you should contact your doctor.

What types of cannabis can be used for ADHD?

In Germany, cannabis is primarily used in ADHD therapy through preparations. There are various ready-to-use medicines on the market that contain the active ingredient. Cannabis flos is also available. Again and again, globules, drops or concoctions for smoking are offered.

Cannabis globules

Cannabis globules are a homeopathic remedy for which you do not need a prescription. You can buy them in the shops. However, there is no medical evidence that cannabis globules are effective in treating ADHD.

Smoking cannabis

Cannabis for smoking will not be prescribed by a doctor. In therapy in Germany, only approved medicines are used.

Do CBD drops help with ADHD?

CBD drops are mostly composed of cannabis oil. They can also be bought without a prescription. This is due to the fact that the active ingredient CBD is contained here in only a very small dose. CBD oil is said to have a positive effect on health. However, there are no studies on this.

Medizinische CBD-Pillen; CBD-Kapseln

What to do about ADHD: Using cannabis for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, there are several treatment options available to you. One of them is the use of cannabis. However, since cannabis for medical purposes is only approved in Germany for very severe cases, it can be difficult to get support.

What are the advantages of cannabis therapy for ADHD?

  • Increased performance in road traffic
  • Regulation of activation
  • Support of the transmission of chemical neurotransmitters
  • Improvement of cognitive processes
  • Increase in social interaction
  • Reduction of hyperactivity
CBD for ADS and ADHD

The use of CBD for ADD and ADHD is quite possible today. However, medicines containing cannabis are only approved for treatment if the patient cannot be treated otherwise. So it can take a long time before you have a prescription in your hands.

First of all, it is important that the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is made professionally. This is the only way to obtain approval for CBD therapy. In addition, you must be able to prove that you have already undergone the possible therapies without being able to show a lasting effect.

In the context of a therapy with CBD, the above-mentioned advantages and also disadvantages can become apparent. Therefore, the doctor must always decide individually to what extent the drug can be used for you.

Trivia: What else you should know about CBD for ADHD

The extensive information about the use of cannabis for ADHD is already a great help on the road to recovery. Especially because the use of cannabis in this area is rather controversial and also little known, it is especially important to know what your rights are.

Is cannabis for ADHD covered by health insurance?

The fact that cannabis medications require a prescription is a point that needs to be taken into account. However, the extent to which the health insurance actually covers the costs depends on the individual case. The health insurance companies can refer to the law here and point out that cannabis may only be used in severe cases.

The assessment of whether your case is a severe case depends on the therapies you have already undergone. It is therefore all the more important that your doctor compiles a comprehensive justification and refers to the therapies you have already undergone and the lack of success. In severe cases, the health insurance companies will cover the costs.

Since when has cannabis been used for ADHD?

Cannabis has been used for several years in the fight against ADHD. As early as 2008, there was a case report from the University of Heidelberg. It was noted that THC can increase the attention of patients with ADHD. Studies on the subject were also conducted in 2003 and 2006.

Since 2017, there has been a new regulation in Germany that makes it clear that cannabis can be used in severe cases of ADHD. Within the framework of this regulation, the number of therapies has increased in the meantime. However, the main problem is still to get the costs covered by the health insurance companies.

Are there studies on the use of cannabis for ADHD?

There are several studies and case studies that focus on the effect of cannabis in ADHD. In addition to the aforementioned study from Heidelberg in 2008, studies were also conducted in 2003 and 2006. In 2016, there was a study that specifically refers to the preparation Sativex, which contains cannabis as an active ingredient.


The use of cannabis for ADHD has been in practice for several years. However, the drug is still only prescribed when a very severe case of ADHD is diagnosed. In addition, the patient must have demonstrably already undergone all alternative therapies or be unsuitable for them.

The dosage and form of intake must be agreed upon in an individual discussion with the attending physician. Based on the data already collected on the respective case, the doctor can decide in which strength cannabis is to be used. Approved medicines are used for this purpose.

Products with a small amount of cannabis, such as oil or globules, are available over-the-counter. However, their influence on ADHD has not been medically proven.

Further sources and literature

[ 1 ] https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/99716/Kein-Cannabis-auf-Rezept-fuer-ADHS-Patienten
[2] https://www.adhs-deutschland.de/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-8/19_read-10116/
[3] https://www.leafly.de/ist-der-einsatz-von-cannabinoiden-arzneimitteln-bei-kindern-oder-jugendlichen-mit-adhsads-ratsam-oder-hilfreich/
[4] https://www.adhspedia.de/wiki/Cannabis_und_ADHS#Einstellung.2C_Applikation_und_Dosierung
[5 ]https://secret-wiki.de/wiki/Medizinisches_Marihuana
[6] https://www.cbd360.net/cbd-globuli.html
Dr. Harald Stephan
Dr. rer. medic. Harald Stephan
Graduate Biologist, Medical Information Processing Officer and Doctor of Health Sciences
About the author

After studying in Saarbrücken, Dr Harald Stephan worked in research and teaching at the Universities of Marburg and Bochum as well as at the University Hospital in Essen before becoming a self-employed publicist in 2016. He sees acquiring and passing on knowledge as his life's work.

In addition to his publications on cell biology and tumour research in renowned specialist journals, hundreds of his articles on health topics can be found on the internet. In them, he explains the causes of diseases, laboratory values, diagnoses as well as traditional and novel therapy options.