Compare Ritalin vs. Marinol

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.


Ritalin (methylphenidate)

Prescription only

Marinol (dronabinol)

Prescription only
Helps you focus and stay alert.

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that comes in many different forms, but you need to take this medication more often than alternatives.

3.5/ 5 average rating with 526 reviewsforRitalin
Treats appetite loss and nausea.

Marinol (dronabinol) can help with appetite stimulation and nausea/vomiting; however, there are other medicines available that might work better and have less side effects.

  • First-choice medication to treat ADHD because it is cheap and effective.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate) is used with counseling and other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • Available in many different forms: extended-release and immediate-release tablets, chewable tablet, and liquid.
  • Preferred medicine for elderly with ADHD or narcolepsy because it is safer than alternatives for this population.
  • The appetite stimulating effects of Marinol (dronabinol) can last up to 5 months.
  • Marinol (dronabinol) is available in cheaper, generic form.
  • Can also improve mood and body weight in some people.
  • Need to take Ritalin (methylphenidate) 2 or 3 times a day compared to other ADHD medications which you can take once daily.
  • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so its not safe for people with heart problems.
  • It's a controlled medication (CII), so you may need to get a new prescription each month from your doctor.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate) may affect growth in children and teens in some cases.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate) contains a mixture of active and inactive compounds (dexmethylphenidate and methylphenidate, respectively), which may not work as well for some people.
  • Adults age 65 or older might be more sensitive to the side effects of Marinol (dronabinol), especially mental/physical ability impairment, psychological changes, and blood pressure changes.
  • This medicine might actually worsen nausea/vomiting or cause stomach pain. If this happens, your doctor can change your dose or stop the medicine.
  • Can cause dry mouth and effect your dental health, so maintain good dental hygiene.
  • Can help with appetite stimulation, but does not stimulate weight gain.
Used for
  • Treatment of appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS
  • Treatment of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Treatment and prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Chewable tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
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526 reviews so far
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Side effects
17possible side effects
  • Lowered appetite
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Aggressive behavior
See more detailed side effects
The Marinol (dronabinol) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Abuse and dependence
    • History of drug abuse
    • Alcoholism
  • Serious or life-threatening heart problems
    • History of heart problems
  • Aggressive behavior and psychiatric symptoms
    • History of psychotic episodes
    • History of bipolar disorder
    • History of Tourette's syndrome
  • Height and weight delay in children
    • Children
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
  • Circulation problems in the hands and feet
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Impairment of mental or physical abilities
    • Taking other medicines that cause drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion
  • Seizures
    • History of seizures
  • Heart and blood vessel changes
    • History of heart problems
    • Used with other medicines that have similar effects on the heart and blood vessels
  • Substance abuse
    • History of subastance abuse
    • History of alcohol dependence
  • Hypersensitivity (allergic) reaction
  • Mood and behavior changes
    • History of mental illness
See more detailed risks and warnings