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  • Writer's pictureVidyasagar Vangala

Cannabis and Mental Health: A lot to talk about

Cannabis has become a widely-used drug recreationally and has recently become more popular for its use in medical management of certain disorders. There are mixed opinions about the benefits and harms cannabis poses in terms of mental health. Also there is a lot of confusion in the general public-what is THC and what is Cannabidiol. Most of the benefits attributed to cannabis are in fact due to cannabidiol not the THC which is in common usage.

Potential Harm There has been some research into the idea that cannabis use contributes to the development of mood disorders, anxiety, depression, drug dependence and psychosis. One study done in 2016 in JAMA concluded that cannabis greatly increased the risk of producing alcohol and drug dependence and it is known as a “gateway drug”, but was not associated with an increased risk of developing mood or anxiety disorders. In other studies, cannabis use as a young adult associated more highly with anxiety disorders. Although this seems to be proof for causation, it is almost impossible to determine if the cannabis use came first or if the anxiety symptoms began first. Many cannabis users smoke the drug to alleviate their symptoms of anxiety, so whether the drug use came first or the anxiety did is almost impossible to extrapolate. A study done in the Journal of Psychoses and Related Disorders studied how different doses of cannabis correlated with development of psychosis. Although there was a high correlation between higher dose cannabis use and higher likelihood of having psychosis, a causal relationship could not be proven with this research because many other environmental and genetic factors weren’t considered. Potential Benefit There has not been much research on therapeutic effects of medical marijuana since it is federally labelled as a schedule 1 drug, however there has been speculation and personal testimonies that reveal possible treatment avenues. For example, a meta-analysis of surveys showed that of people who suffer from anxiety, cannabis users experience symptoms less often than those who do not use the drug. In addition to anxiety, marijuana is thought have benefit in the treatment of PTSD and depression. To gain more information on the benefits of cannabis use for psychiatric issues, much more research needs to be done, and benefits as wells as dangers must be compared.

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