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  • Matthew O.

Understanding Medical Marijuana and Its Potential for Treating Mental Health Issues

As the number of people using marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes continues to rise, psychiatrists and other behavioral health professionals must understand the link between cannabis and mental illnesses. Medical marijuana is now allowed in more than half of states, and eight states plus the District of Columbia have authorized recreational marijuana usage for adults.

There has been a recent explosion in research into the medicinal uses of cannabis, the endocannabinoid system, and cannabinoid pharmacology. A recent comprehensive review of medicinal cannabis and mental health observed, however, that the scientific research on the therapeutic use of cannabis is undeveloped compared to the material on non-medical cannabis use.

Despite cannabis's long history of medicinal use, the federal government has spent the better part of the last half-century funding research into the plant's potential dangers rather than the therapeutic benefits due to its classification as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Marijuana, Cannabidiol, and Psychosis

In carefully monitored clinical trials, molecular CBD has been demonstrated to effectively treat schizophrenia symptoms, producing outcomes on par with those achieved by therapy with a currently available antipsychotic medicine while having a more tolerable adverse-effect profile.

CBD may counteract or mitigate the psychotomimetic effects of THC, as shown by other research, suggesting it may have medicinal promise as an antipsychotic.

Despite the differences between THC and CBD, a small case series found that adding low-dose prescription THC to regimens that included clozapine in some cases or multiple antipsychotics in 1 patient improved the symptoms of schizophrenia in 6 patients. There was an antipsychotic impact in three patients who improved when THC was added to their treatment plan.

The link between THC and psychosis may be dose-dependent, as it is with the drug's ability to induce anxiety.

Cannabinoids and Memory Loss

Individuals with a history of psychotic illnesses and a history of cannabis use show some statistical evidence of a connection between cannabis use and improved cognitive performance.

It has been hypothesized that this represents a subset of individuals who are less susceptible to cognitive impairment, and so would not have developed psychosis in the absence of cannabis exposure. In addition, there is moderate statistical evidence between acute cannabis use to deficits in learning, memory, and attention. However, findings on the issue of long-term and persistent cognitive damage have been contradictory. Although a previous meta-analysis indicated no residual damage, a new investigation reveals cognitive deterioration in long-term users with cannabis use disorders.

The findings of impairment pertain particularly to severe long-term usage and even more specifically to those individuals with cannabis use disorders, suggesting that dose may be an

essential component in both cognitive performance and the likelihood of psychosis.

PTSD and Cannabis

Although no complex data support using cannabis or cannabinoids to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is more support from clinical reports and case series that did not meet the study's quality standards. More and more states are including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on their lists of approved conditions for medical cannabis usage.

Many mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have been reported by clinicians who have authored many medicinal cannabis prescriptions.

Consistent with what is known about the psychobiology of PTSD and the increasing studies on the endocannabinoid system, cannabis medications have positive effects on PTSD. Cannabinoid (CB1 and CB2) receptors, endogenous ligands such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and enzymes that control endocannabinoid ligand synthesis make up the 12 parts of the endocannabinoid system. Postsynaptically released ligands bind to presynaptic cannabinoid receptors and limit presynaptic neurotransmitter release during retrograde endocannabinoid signaling.

Benefits of Medical Cannabis as Patients See Them

Many people with mental problems use cannabis and find relief from their symptoms, regardless of the drug's legal status. Chronic pain, sleeplessness, opiate dependency, schizophrenia, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some conditions that patients use cannabis to treat.

Patients also turn to cannabis when conventional treatments have failed them for neurological issues, including the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, the agitation associated with dementia, and certain seizure disorders.

Cannabis is used by patients, often with the consent of their oncologists, to alleviate nausea and anorexia caused by cancer chemotherapy and to boost their mood and sense of optimism.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cannabis for People With Mental Illness

The two chemicals in herbal cannabis, THC and CBD that have attracted the most academic attention and have been of the most significant therapeutic relevance, have been the primary focus of the preceding discussion.

Many additional chemicals, however, are found only in cannabis. The quantities of these chemicals vary greatly amongst cannabis strains due to genetic diversity and environmental factors. Unfortunately, there is insufficient evidence on the effects of cannabis and its component cannabinoids and terpenes on patients' mental health to inform professional practice.

The "counselors" at medical marijuana clinics in several states advise patients to select the strain most impacting their symptoms. There is a lot of subjectivity in determining whether or not a particular strain of cannabis helps alleviate symptoms. Still, some fundamental guidelines help dispensary counselors make informed selections.

The majority of cannabis used for medicinal purposes comes from either the Cannabis sativa plant, the Cannabis indica plant, or a hybrid strain created by breeding these two species.

Cannabis indica strains and their extracts are often recommended to patients with anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain because they are thought to be more sedating and provide greater muscular relaxation than Cannabis sativa strains.

Self-selection of certain types of cannabis is not limited to those with descriptive names. Several medical dispensaries offer laboratory studies of the central cannabinoid concentrations in the cannabis they sell. Like the items mentioned above, THC and CBD are the most famous cannabinoid chemicals, but there are others to consider.

Get Your Medical Marijuana Card in Kentucky

Medical marijuana will be legal in Kentucky in 2025! However, you can now use medical marijuana purchased from other states, so get a recommendation as legal protection!

Cannabis is a natural, safe alternative medicine without the harsh side effects of many prescription drugs. If you think you could benefit from medical marijuana, you probably qualify!

Schedule an online evaluation with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors or contact us at (833) 781-6360. Why wait longer than you must for the relief you've been missing?

You'll meet with your doctor virtually via a telemedicine appointment using your smartphone or computer, and together, you'll discuss your condition and decide if medical marijuana is right for you.

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