- D.H. Reilly
What We’ve Been Saying All Along: Cannabis Helps Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia
If you were hoping for one more good reason to get a Kentucky Marijuana Card, well then Merry Christmas, because that’s exactly what we got you!
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine showed that medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.
Now we’ve already told you about medical marijuana’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and sleep disorders, and it isn’t exactly news that cannabis can also treat depression. So you might ask why we’re crowing so about this latest confirmation of what we’ve already known. Well the science of marijuana has been lacking thanks to its prohibition at the federal level, so every new study that confirms what we already know about the medicinal value of cannabis is one more weapon advocates can use to bring medical marijuana to states that don’t already have it.
And as this new article reconfirms three uses for medical marijuana in one single study, it’s especially worth crowing about.
Lead Researcher Says Medical Marijuana Treats Depression, Sleep Disorders, and Anxiety, but More Research is Needed
The researchers studied both patients who were already medical marijuana users and those who weren’t, and found that both groups benefited from the medicine.
One noteworthy finding was that patients who already used medical marijuana reported lower levels of depression at the beginning of the study than did nonusers.
Marijuana users who participated in the study also reported experiencing better sleep and quality of life and less pain than nonusers in the previous month, and users were less likely to have symptoms of clinical depression.
At the study’s conclusion, when both users and nonusers had been on a medical marijuana regimen, the nonusers showed reductions in depression, anxiety, and pain, as well as improved sleep quality and quality of life.
The study’s lead researcher, University of South Carolina doctoral candidate Erin Martin, told the psychology and neurology news website PsyPost that “Medicinal cannabis products, especially products high in CBD, may help to treat symptoms of depression, improve sleep, and increase quality of life.”
She then went on to say “There is also some evidence that medicinal cannabis may alleviate symptoms of anxiety, particularly if administered over an extended period of time, but this is less clear from our results and warrants further study.”
Medical Marijuana’s Quasi-Legal Status Impairs Scientific Research
The lack of clarity that Martin mentioned to PsyPost is a result of the limited scientific research medical marijuana has received compared to traditional pharmaceuticals. And that limited research is a result of the federal prohibition on marijuana.
Science demands high levels of certainty before judging a medication’s safety and efficacy, which means that even though scores of scientific studies have supported medical marijuana’s medicinal value, there is still a much larger body of research related to traditional pharmaceuticals, meaning scientists are willing to make fewer conclusive statements about the medicinal value of cannabis.
“Bottlenecked” Medical Marijuana Research Leads to Vicious Cycle
Marijuana research in the United States has been described as “bottlenecked because of limitations on studying the Cannabis sativa plant, some parts of which remain a Schedule I drug.”
The federal government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug, meaning that even though medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, federally marijuana is considered to have “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” That status creates legal barriers for researchers like Martin who would better understand the much maligned medicine.
“We conducted this study to determine if people that used medicinal cannabis products to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression reported improvement in these symptoms, as well as in other important areas like sleep and quality of life, relative to people that did not use medicinal cannabis,” Martin told PsyPost.
Unfortunately, despite the exciting findings of this study that showed that medical marijuana users enjoyed significant health benefits from their medication, the body of research on cannabis remains comparatively limited, which results in a vicious cycle that only perpetuates both the stigma against marijuana and legislators’ wrongheaded approaches to the medicine.
Harvard researcher Dr. Staci Gruber described this cycle to Discover Magazine. According to Gruber, when legislators are crafting marijuana laws, they often ask scientists for advice. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned obstacles in cannabis research, scientists usually cannot give concrete proof of marijuana’s safety and efficacy.
This lack of scientific certainty leads legislators to leave research barriers in place for fear of the unknown, forcing scientists to continue to struggle to offer conclusive evidence. Worse than that, this cycle leaves many patients stuck with pharmaceuticals that may be better understood than medical marijuana, but that are also often less effective and more dangerous.
Study Highlights Both Medical Marijuana’s Effectiveness and Patients’ Frustrations
Martin said their study was important because depression and anxiety are widespread, as is patient dissatisfaction with traditional treatments for these conditions.
“Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly prevalent,” Martin told PsyPost. “Traditional antidepressants may effectively treat these disorders in a lot of people, but they do not work for everyone and can have unpleasant side effects.”
More than thirty million people around the world suffer from clinical depression according to the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, more than 30 million people around the world struggle with depression. As many as nine million Americans have generalized anxiety disorder.
Unfortunately, antidepressants often come with adverse side effects, and they can take weeks or even months to show results. On the other hand, medical marijuana’s side effects are not only better tolerated by most patients than those of traditional antidepressants, but it can produce antidepressant effects within moments after being taken by a patient.
And that’s why we found this study’s results to be so exciting. By confirming again and again the results of old studies, new medical marijuana studies continue to chip away at the stigmas and misunderstandings around this medicine, and therefore contribute to ending the marijuana research bottleneck.
Start Your Journey with Medical Marijuana Today
While you will have to wait until at least 2022 before Kentucky gets a medical marijuana law, you can start getting ready for the medicine’s inevitable arrival in the Bluegrass State right now.
Reserve a medical marijuana evaluation online today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Kentucky has established a medical marijuana market.
You’ll meet with your doctor virtually, using your smartphone, tablet or computer for a telemedicine appointment. Together you’ll discuss your condition and what medical marijuana could do for you. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6360, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!