The Difference Between Marinol and Marijuana?

Marinol, a drug containing a chemical similar to that found in marijuana, has been licensed by the FDA for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting as well as AIDS-related anorexia. However, the FDA has not yet authorised marijuana for medicinal use. So, why is Marinol authorised yet marijuana is not, and what are the distinctions between the two? Here’s all you need to know about it.

Define Marinol?

Marinol [1] is an FDA-approved medicine containing dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which is used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in patients who have failed to react to previous treatments, as well as anorexia caused by weight loss in AIDS patients. THC is a psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, cannabis sativa. It binds to chemical receptors in the brain and causes pleasure, or a “high.”

Marinol and generic dronabinol are both available in 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg capsules. These drugs take 30 to 60 minutes to begin acting, with peak effects occurring after 2 to 4 hours [2].

Marinol vs Marijuana

Marinol has been licensed for medicinal use, but marijuana has been denied government approval for any medical use. Marijuana has not been licensed for medicinal usage because researchers have not conducted sufficient study to determine if its advantages outweigh the harms it poses to patients.

Marinol, also known as dronabinol, does not contain all of the components found in the entire marijuana plant. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), one of approximately 100 cannabinoids [3] present in cannabis sativa, is synthesized or naturally refined for use in the medicine. THC and cannabidiol, two cannabinoids found in marijuana, have been researched for therapeutic use (CBD) [4].

Which is more Psychoactive?

Marinol’s intoxicating effects are often reported to be significantly stronger than those of natural cannabis by patients who have been administered it. Feeling “high,” sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, mood swings, confused thinking, perceptual issues, coordination impairment, irritability, and depression are among side effects of Marinol [8]. These psychedelic effects might last anywhere between four and six hours. Approximately one-third of Marinol patients report suffering one or more of these side effects.

Why Use Medicinal Marijuana?

Medical marijuana for cancer pain is controversial because it hasn’t been well researched. The majority of medicinal marijuana users, however, are suffering from severe or chronic pain [5]. While just a few studies [6] have been conducted, it appears that smoking marijuana in conjunction with standard pain drugs for cancer patients may be useful.

Medical marijuana is also used to treat the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis

How Do These Substances Work for Pain?

Marinol (dronabinol) has been examined [6] for chronic non-cancer pain, post-surgical pain, and nerve-related pain. Marinol was shown to be no better than placebo for the first two forms of pain, with the exception of nerve-related pain [7] associated with multiple sclerosis, when it showed a minor advantage. It was shown to be just marginally better than placebo for persistent non-cancer pain.

Marijuana has received less research than cannabinoid medicines, owing to legal constraints. However, smoked marijuana was found to be more effective than a placebo in reducing pain in a few trials. A study evaluating the effects of vaporised (not smoked) marijuana [6] indicated that it was also more effective than placebo for reducing nerve pain.

Appetite and Nausea

In HIV patients, both marijuana and Marinol have been demonstrated to aid with nausea and lack of appetite [6].

How Should You Choose

Finally, whether you choose Marinol or marijuana is primarily determined by state legislation. There may be no other option in some states. It’s also a good idea to keep a watch on other THC products in development, since some of them could be suitable for your requirements.


[1] Marinol Definition

[2] MARINOL (dronabinol) capsules, for oral use

[3] Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine?

[4] Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils

[5] Harvard Health Blog: Medical Marijuana

[6] Medical marijuana for cancer

[7] Does the cannabinoid dronabinol reduce central pain in multiple sclerosis? Randomised double blind placebo controlled crossover trial

[8] CANNABIS AND MENTAL HEALTH: Responses to the Emerging Evidence

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