Marijuana use is on the rise all across the country. The recent elections saw 9 states have some form of cannabis legalization on their ballots. And in a landslide victory for cannabis, 8 of those initiatives passed. Now, more Americans have legal access to weed than ever before. That makes questions about the plant’s safety and potential mental health benefits more pertinent now than ever before.
The principal way cannabis interacts with the body is through the hundreds of cannabinoids found within. These compounds act on the brain in a variety of different ways to bring about all kinds of effects. Through these results, many studies have found therapeutic benefit. From Parkinson’s disease to high blood pressure, hundreds of individual studies have found marijuana to be an effective course of treatment for dozens of ailments.
And its therapeutic potential isn’t limited to physical diseases either. There is also evidence in the literature that cannabis can provide aid for those suffering from psychological health issues. Marijuana use alleviates Anorexia, depression and a host of other mental health disorders, and the list is always growing.
In that vein, a group of researchers from Canada and the United States recently performed a scientific review. In it, they examined the studies surrounding cannabis’s potential benefits for mental health. Their results conclude what many already knew: marijuana is an effective medication for numerous mental health disorders.
Review Concludes That Marijuana Benefits Mental Health
In an effort to shed light on cannabis’s medicinal value, the researchers combed through hundreds of studies. In doing so, their focus was on determining whether or not the medical community should consider marijuana a viable medication in treating mental health disorders.
The team published their results in the journal Clinical Psychology Review. In their report, the researchers confirmed that marijuana is helpful in treating mental health. Specifically mentioned were depression, social anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). However, the study notes that this list may not be exhaustive.
Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and contributor to the study, weighed in on the matter. “This is a substance that has potential use for mental health. We should be looking at it in the same way and be holding it up to the same standard.” And in conducting this review, Walsh, and his team have done exactly that.
Aside from treating various mental health disorders, the study made a different but equally remarkable observation about cannabis. Physicians may also use the herb as a powerful tool in curbing harmful addictions.
Cannabis Fights Addiction To Opioids
To many, the fact that cannabis benefits mental health is no surprise. Perhaps more surprisingly, patients can use the plant to fight addictions to other more harmful drugs such as opioid painkillers.
As it stands, there is an opioid crisis in the US. Thousands are overdosing throughout the country all the time. And even more are becoming hopelessly addicted. In combating this problem, some have suggested that marijuana is the answer to the opioid epidemic. And the results of this study may have vindicated those people by confirming that notion.
Walsh notes, “We are really excited about the potential substitution effect. If people use cannabis as a replacement for opioid medications, or to get off of opioids or cut back, we could see some pretty dramatic public health benefits.” This statement came on the heels of the review’s publication, which found some evidence that marijuana can be effective in this capacity. By replacing opioids with cannabis, the country would see fewer overdoses, emergency room visits, and deaths; all of which society would welcome with open arms.
The Final Hit
Following the legalization of marijuana in many more states within the union, we can expect to see more studies of this kind come out shortly. The authors of the study make clear that more research is obviously needed, but they are nonetheless very optimistic regarding marijuana’s medicinal value.
In addition to learning more about marijuana, further studies would also help eliminate the stigma surrounding its use. Fortunately, reviews of this kind will no doubt continue to pour out. With how great of a boon cannabis is as a therapeutic agent, it’s only a matter of time before the world of mainstream medicine accepts its inclusion.