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Medicinal Marijuana And Mental Health

A systematic review of research on the use of medical cannabis has revealed its potential in treating drug addiction and some mental health issues.

The review, led by University of British Columbia’s Professor Zac Walsh, concluded cannabis has potential for the treatment of conditions such as PTSD and substance use disorders.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” says Professor Walsh; who is an associate professor of psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The review, claimed to be one of the most comprehensive reports of its type to date, examined 31 articles relating to the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes (CTP) on mental health, and 29 review articles on cannabis use and mental health that did not focus on use for therapeutic purposes.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” states Professor Walsh.

This is something we’ve covered a number of times on Hemp Gazette. Earlier this week, we mentioned a pilot study that found a decrease in pharmaceutical opiates usage, which reduced by 42% between the baseline and the follow up.

Another study from June indicated opioid abuse is less common in states with medical marijuana laws. An earlier University of Michigan study found chronic pain patients using medicinal cannabis reported a significant decrease in their consumption of prescription opioid-based medications.

The researchers also note cannabis may help with symptoms of depression, PTSD and social anxiety. Marijuana’s potential benefits in treating PTSD have received a great deal of coverage and earlier this year, a study indicated the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) may be useful as an anti-depressant.

While the University of British Columbia study is encouraging, the authors note more research is needed to characterize the mental health impact of medical cannabis. That’s no surprise; most of the increasing number of studies on medicinal marijuana state the same.

The study, Medical cannabis and mental health: A guided systematic review, has been published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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