The availability of marijuana is growing, now legal in 28 states medically or recreationally. Researchers in Canada and the US recently looked for answers on marijuana’s potential mental health benefits.
A recent review suggests cannabis for mental illness could be a helpful treatment option
Time reports on medical marijuana as a treatment of mental disorders. Scientists have had relatively little opportunity to study the effects of marijuana on different ailments as it was demonized as a Schedule 1 substance for decades, making it almost impossible to study. Most studies focused on illicit use rather than therapeutic potential.
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Cannabis contains cannabinoids
Scientists know marijuana contains hundreds of compounds called cannabinoids, which have a biological effect on the body. Medical cannabis can be prescribed for an array of conditions such as cancer symptoms, arthritis, and for conditions such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.
A team of researchers from Canada and the US recently conducted a review on marijuana’s potential mental health benefits. The report was published in the journal – Clinical Psychology Review. They have found evidence that cannabis can be beneficial to those suffering depression, social anxiety and PTSD. Cannabis may not be ideal for people suffering bipolar disorder, as it may have more negative side effects than positive effects.
Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and study author says “This is a substance that has potential use for mental health, we should be looking at it in the same way, as other drugs, and be holding it up to the same standards.”
Cannabis could hold dramatic public benefit
More research is needed, but studies suggest cannabis may have a role to play in dealing with addiction as a substitution. If cannabis could replace opioid medication, or help people get off opioids, or cut back, it could leverage some dramatic public health benefits, says Walsh. The level of opioid overdose is extremely high right now.
Producers must fund research
Walsh is leading the investigation of a clinical trial on cannabis funded by medical cannabis producer called Tilray. A fellow-researcher on the study has been a consultant for other medical cannabis producers. They were asked if they consider this a conflict of interest. Are they being biased?
Walsh explained how hard funding for cannabis-related research is to come by, and says that he hopes we are entering a different era, but currently a lot of research, at least in Canada, can only be conducted because producers fund it. This is similar to the way research is done by pharmaceutical companies.
Cannabis for mental illness
Many people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses could benefit more from using cannabis if they could speak out about it. As Walsh says: “I think people will derive more benefit if they can speak more openly with providers about whether they are using cannabis and why.”
Welsh and fellow scientists argue any drug can have side effects, and for now all aspects of cannabis need to be explored further to uncover the beneficial as well as the potential harmful effects.
Primary source: http://time.com/4573129/marijuana-cannabis-mental-health/