According to a new study, marijuana could be useful in treating the symptoms of certain mental health disorders.
Medical marijuana just became legal in four more states. In total, 28 states have legalized its use for medicinal purposes. The number of patients medicating with marijuana will almost certainly rise.
This highlights the need for substantial clinical research. Although there are countless patient stories and testimonials on the effectiveness of marijuana as a medicine, officially sanctioned research is still lagging.
Fortunately, clinical research should be steadily increasing in the coming years. As reported by TIME, the Clinical Psychology Review has released new study findings that examine the link between marijuana and several mental health disorders.
The study confirmed what many patients and veterans have claimed for years. Marijuana was found to be particularly useful for combating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. However, the study also found that marijuana use may not be ideal for individuals with bipolar disorder. More research will be necessary to decipher why marijuana is useful for certain mental health disorders but not others.
“This is a substance that has potential use for mental health,” said Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and lead researcher of the study. “We should be looking at it in the same way [as other drugs] and be holding it up to the same standard.”
Like many, Walsh is hoping to see a reduction in the use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. “We are really excited about the potential substitution effect,” said Walsh. “If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits. The level of opioid overdoses is so high right now.”
The key to proper treatment may be linked to open communication. “I think people will derive more benefit if they can speak more openly with providers about whether they are using cannabis and why,” said Walsh.