Background: As policy responses to cannabis use and availability change internationally,
levels of cannabis use disorder rise and treatment seeking increases. Diversion to
cannabis treatment from the criminal justice system also increases demand in the system. At
a time of developing treatment systems in response to this demand, an understanding of the
evidence is increasingly important.
Objective: To provide a narrative review of the developing evidence-base for psycho-social
interventions for cannabis use disorder, including adjunctive cannabinoid agonist therapy.
Method: Two researchers independently conducted a literature search for articles published
prior to February 2016, located through online search of four electronic databases (Google
Scholar, CINAHL, Medline, and PsycINFO). Only randomised controlled trials describing
treatment(s) for cannabis use or cannabis use disorder with a measure of either cannabis use
frequency or cannabis use disorder severity were included. Non-English papers, review
papers, posters, opinion pieces, letters or editorials, case studies (N<10) and published abstracts were excluded.
Results: The cannabis treatment most likely to be effective for adolescents and adults is based on the combination
of Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with the inclusion
of contingency management and agonist replacement therapy showing promise.
Conclusion: A more concrete and robust evidence base is required for these interventions. Replication of treatment
studies is needed using standardised interventions, methods and measures to minimise conflicting findings, inconsistent
follow-up periods and relatively poor treatment effects over time.