07-01-2020 Your Prescriptions

The Real Difference Between Marinol and Marijuana

The Real Difference Between Marinol and Marijuana | America’s Pharmacy

What is Marinol and How is it Similar to Marijuana?

Whether you’ve heard the name Marinol or you’re unfamiliar with it, Marinol (dronabinol) is a not-so commonly known medication that is used for the treatment of nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medications along with loss of appetite and weight loss from AIDS and anorexia. Marinol is often used after other anti-nausea medications are tried with little to no success. Similar to the cannabis created naturally from Marijuana, Marinol is a laboratory-produced medication derived from cannabis and is FDA approved.

How is Marinol Different from Marijuana?

While Marinol is approved by the FDA for medical uses and can be prescribed by a physician, marijuana is not yet approved by the FDA for medical use. The effects of marijuana have not been studied as in-depth as FDA approved drugs to understand the benefits and risks of medical use. Marinol does not include all of the components that a marijuana plant contains, which is just one of the hundreds of components of the marijuana plant. Medical marijuana contains the whole, unprocessed plant or the plant’s extracts to treat medical symptoms. While marinol is used for nausea and weight gain for specific diagnoses, medical marijuana is used for a wider variety of treatments for symptoms2 and side effects from;

  • Chronic pain
  • Alzheimers
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy Parkinson’s Disease
  • Endometriosis

Marinol has also been studied for its efficacy in pain reduction and management, but studies have shown1 Marinol to provide less pain relief than marijuana, however marijuana has not been studied as thoroughly as Marinol due to it not being approved by the FDA.

Comparing the Side Effects of Marinol and Marijuana

There are a wide range of side effects for both Marinol and marijuana, both varying in severity. Occasional, less common Marinol side effects can include;

  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Loss of memory
  • Depression and/or anxiety

Marijuana side effects also vary in severity, but users tend to experience milder side effects3 such as;

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Lightheadedness and/or nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Paranoid thinking

The Cost of Marinol vs. the Cost of Marijuana

Since doctors cannot write a prescription for medical marijuana, you can receive a medical marijuana recommendation from your doctor, which can be used when purchasing marijuana at your local dispensary. Because marijuana is not federally regulated, the cost and availability will vary state by state, and because medical marijuana is not sold through pharmacies, a prescription coupon or pharmacy coupon does not exist for these products. The generic prescription of Marinol, dronabinal, at the lowest dose of 2.5mg is eligible for use with pharmacy coupons or prescription coupons, but cost may vary depending on dose and number of capsules prescribed.


1. https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21260

2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/dronabinol-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20063560

3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-marijuana/art-20364974