Medical Marijuana for Mental Health: Know The Facts

There was a time marijuana was known primarily as a recreational drug in movies like Dazed and Confused and Half-Baked. In recent years, however, the doors have opened for consideration of marijuana as a drug whose use extends beyond the good times. With California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts approving recreational use of marijuana in 2016, things are set to change for the cannabis plant and all of its strains. Fortunately, for those who are looking for medical marijuana to reduce issues with pain and anxiety, the changing legislation offers a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

According to a survey from the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2016, a response from 1446 doctors from 72 countries around the world determined that 76% of those polled approved the use of medical marijuana. With statistics like these, it goes without saying that the trajectory for medical marijuana use is set to shift dramatically in the coming years.

While the jury is still out on how marijuana can help patients who are struggling with depression, anxiety and mental health issues, researchers like Zach Walsh are hoping further study will offer solutions. As an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of British Columbia, Walsh thinks medical marijuana is full of potential. “I think we are entering a different world…but for now a lot of the research, at least in Canada, is funded by the producers.” If you’re a patient hoping to use medical marijuana for your own ailments, here’s what you need to know about the current cannabis situation.

Cannabis: The Plant

As a nettle plant in the Cannabaceae family, marijuana is derived from three species of this genus including cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. It is this plant that provides the well-known flower which can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. Cannabis contains more than 100 different chemical compounds, but there are just a few chemicals in it that figure heavily in the use of medicine including delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While marijuana has been used for treatment of the side effects of chemotherapy for many years, there is still some grey area surrounding its use for other ailments

medical marijuana

Consider Your Strain

There are countless marijuana strains for those pursuing it as an option for medical means. And fortunately, for those who are interested in the medical abilities of this plant, there are new strains being created all the time that offer different types of relief. If you’re looking to deal with the symptoms of depression, stress or lack of appetite, strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Harlequin, OG Kush, Strawberry Cough and Master Kush feminized seed can be good options. If it comes down to pain that leads to stress, anxiety and other mental health symptoms, strains like One to One, Bruce Banner and Super Sour Diesel may also offer relief.

What Can Cannabis Do?

Because cannabinoids are the active chemical in medical marijuana, a chemical that is also present in the body, their presence has the ability to impact how the body functions. This chemical can alter everything from a person’s motor skills to their cognitive abilities and emotions. As these chemicals are similar to cannabis in this regard, a 2014 study by the Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health reported that those polled had a 64% improvement in body pain while using the drug. In addition, it’s believed that the drug may be useful for improving nausea, sleep disorders, involuntary movement and reducing stress and anxiety caused by these conditions as a result.

What’s The Research?

While some types of medical marijuana have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help those going through cancer chemotherapy, the research into marijuana and its medicinal benefits is largely untested. Due to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it’s illegal, it has not been researched like many other available drugs. According to Walsh, “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 standard.”

Developing A Dependency

Because people can build up tolerance to marijuana over time and may require a higher dosage in order to sustain the same feeling, it can lead to symptoms associated with addiction including cravings, weight loss and restlessness. While researchers at University of Buffalo are trying to determine if cannabidiol can provide the benefits without addictive drawbacks, it is important to monitor the symptoms – bad and good – associated with marijuana use. According to Marcel Bonn-Miller, a substance abuse specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, “The higher the level of THC and the more often you use, the more likely you are to become dependent.” 

There is still a lot to be discovered when it comes to marijuana as medicine, but the drug’s proven ability in dealing with physical pain and nausea from chemotherapy is a cause for enthusiasm. Whether you’re planning to try CBD oil or the wide variety of cannabis strains available, the research into marijuana’s medical abilities is sure to offer more clarity in the coming years.