Medical Cannabis May Treat Addiction, Mental Health Conditions


Patients with addiction or mental health conditions may benefit from treatment with marijuana.

A new study suggests that cannabis could potentially be used to treat drug addiction and certain mental health conditions.

Investigators discovered that cannabis could provide clinical benefits to individuals with alcohol or opioid use disorders, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. They also found that it should not be used in patients with bipolar disorder or psychosis.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said study lead investigator Zach Walsh, PhD.

In a study published by Clinical Psychology Review, investigators conducted a comprehensive review of all research on the use of medical cannabis in patients with mental health conditions and found it to be largely beneficial.

“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,” Dr Walsh said.

The investigators also reviewed studies about the non-medical use of cannabis and its effects on mental health, which makes this current study the most comprehensive on the topic.

The legalization of cannabis is on the horizon in Canada and possibly in the United States, where the recent election proved fruitful for this topic. Numerous states have approved the recreational and medical use of cannabis this election.

California, Massachusetts, and Nevada all approved recreational cannabis initiatives, while Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas approved medical cannabis use. Montana also made cannabis restrictions less stringent.

The Washington Post reported that this past election was the biggest victory for cannabis reform since 2012, which was when Colorado and Washington approved recreational use of the drug.

California’s approval of recreational cannabis use could spark cannabis reform on both the state and federal level.

These findings could allow for medical cannabis to be approved in mental health conditions, with hopes of improving patient care, since many current treatments have a time-lag of 3 or more months before they take effect. This time lag could cause symptoms to worsen, and may even put patients lives in jeopardy.

“There is currently not a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” Dr Walsh concluded. “With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option, so knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”

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