Medical Marijuana as Therapeutic Option for Intractable Itch Interview with:

Shawn Kwatra

Dr. Kwatra

Shawn Gaurav Kwatra, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What type of medical marijuana ie inhaled? ingested? 

Response: Chronic itch can be an especially difficult condition to treat. Off-label therapeutics are often utilized in the treatment of chronic itch. With the increasing utilization of medical marijuana and our knowledge of the role of the endocannabinoid system in chronic itch, we decided to try medical marijuana in a patient who failed several therapies.

The patient used THC in tincture form sublingually (THC and cannabinol compounded in 1:1 ratio) and had a dramatic reduction in her itch. What are the main findings?

Response: The patient’s itch started as 10 out of 10 on the worst itch numeric rating scale, which asks the patient to rate their itch on a 0 to 10 point scale over a 24 hour period. Their itch subsequently decreased to 4/10 within 10 minutes after initial administration. With continued use, the patient’s itch reduced to 0/10, which it is currently. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Medical marijuana is a therapeutic option for patients with intractable itch. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future randomized controlled studies are needed to determine dosing, efficacy, and safety for the treatment of various forms of itch. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This study seeks to expand the toolbox of therapeutic options for clinicians treating patients with intractable itch.

Disclosures: Dr. Kwatra is an advisory board member/consultant for Abbvie, Celldex Therapeutics, Galderma, Incyte Corporation, Pfizer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals and has received grant funding from Galderma, Pfizer, and Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals.


Roh YS, Sutaria N, Biles NF, Kwatra SG. Treatment of Chronic Pruritus With Medical Marijuana. JAMA Dermatol. Published online April 09, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2021.1194




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Last Updated on April 9, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD