With cannabis now popular, and legal, either recreationally or medically, even both, across most of the United States, researchers are finally finding it easier to study the plant, despite it still being an illegal Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. More and more, we are learning about the effect of marijuana on the human body, and news is very, very good.
In an attempt to understand all of the many claims about marijuana and mental health, researchers in Canada reviewed the scientific literature, conducted a few studies of their own, and came to some interesting conclusions. Weed, especially weed edibles delivery, as it turns out to the surprise of nobody, can play a crucial role in treating both addiction and mental health disorders.
Role of Cannabis in Treating Addiction
Scientists from the University of British Columbia, or UBC, partook in a systematic review. They crunched all the data currently available on the effects of cannabis on mental health. They found science supporting the millions of anecdotal claims that it has a positive effect, with many consumers using the herb to overcome both the negative side effects of addiction and addiction itself.
The team’s results suggest that people are actually replacing alcohol and prescription pain medications, the two most common drugs of abuse, with cannabis, which is notably safer and has no nasty side effects. Though many critics may be wary of the idea of swapping one substance for another, the results indicate that using cannabis therapeutically promises a more harms-reduced approach to addiction.
The researchers concluded that, “With regard to assessment, evidence suggests that CTP, or cannabis for therapeutic purpose, use does not increase risk of harm to self or others.” Zack Walsh, associate professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus and lead investigator of the study, believes that herb has been successfully helping people who are trying to quit a substance habit.
In an interview with UBC News, Walsh explained, “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.” It seems that cannabis is both preventing serious addicts from harming themselves or others, as well as helping them get off harder, more harmful drugs.
Role of Cannabis in Treating Mental Health
Walsh and his team from UBC studied the effects of medical cannabis on mental health disorders, as well. To date, they have discovered the truth of the matter: Marijuana does indeed have a very positive effect on many ailments of the mind. These include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, addiction, and even social anxiety.
However, their analysis also revealed a fact of major concern, that cannabis use may actually be problematic for those already suffering psychotic disorders. The study on psychotic issues is not particularly clear, though, as researchers had to extrapolate data from previous studies on psychosis and non-therapeutic cannabis use to reach that finding.
For those suffering more severe mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, studies also offer an unclear verdict. Walsh and his team showed some concern over the effect that cannabis can have on memory, particularly short-term memory. As anyone who has ever smoked the toke already knows very well, marijuana is more than capable of making you just a mite forgetful.
More Scientific Research is Necessary
Unfortunately, to reach its conclusions, the UBC study could only make use of information already available, which, admittedly, is not very much. Due to federal illegality, scientists have not been able to study cannabis freely for decades and are only now starting to do so with vigor. The world of marijuana studies into mental health is but a small one, but researchers are hard at work making it bigger.
Medical researchers and scientists the world over have yet to determine exactly what causes people to suffer mental health issues, let alone understand the impact a psychoactive herb can have on them. The only way to find out for sure is to conduct more research. Cannabis is no longer a taboo subject among mental health doctors, and with legalization, psychiatrists and others are looking at weed in a new light.
As Walsh clearly stated, “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. With the end of prohibition, telling people simply to stop using may not be a feasible option any longer, so knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”
The UBC study is a breakthrough start to studying cannabis and its effect on mental health more closely. As Walsh said, it is imperative that mental health professionals are able to understand exactly why patients find medical weed so attractive to begin with, why so many gravitate toward weed edibles delivery, and just who might benefit most from using the therapeutic herb.
Sadly, restrictions to both cannabis research and distribution across the globe make finding accurate, real answers notably more challenging, but that is slowly changing as more states and countries legalize. Luckily, for Canada especially, legalization is inspiring some long-awaited studies, the results of which should emerge sooner than anyone might expect.
Author Bio: John Levy has over five years of experience in the marijuana industry. He blogs extensively for Pot Valet, a leading recreational weed delivery service in California, as well as advocates wherever possible for the legalization of cannabis and the immense benefits it has on overall human health.