medical cannabis & mental health
Interest in medical cannabis has increased due to its potential to treat medical conditions and symptoms such as chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. Some individuals use cannabis for self-medication, access it through the recreational or illicit markets, or obtain it through medical cannabis programs in regions where it is legal. Other conditions that cannabis may be used to treat include multiple sclerosis, AIDS-associated wasting/cachexia, insomnia, arthritis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), glaucoma, headaches and migraines, and nausea (Kosiba et al. 2019; Lu and Anderson 2017; Kaur et al. 2016; Zaller et al. 2015; Klumpers and Thacker 2019; Institute of Medicine (U.S.) 1999).
This study, published in Journal of Cannabis Research, retrospectively reviewed data from 33 medical cannabis evaluation clinics in the United States, owned and operated by CB2 Insights. The data were collected primarily through face-to-face interviews with patients seeking medical cannabis certification between November 18, 2018 and March 18, 2020. The study found that patients often use medical cannabis to treat multiple conditions, which is important for the medical community and patients to be aware of. This raises questions about why patients use medical cannabis for multiple conditions and whether they use different products to treat their various symptoms.
The results of this study indicate that patients seeking medical cannabis in the US most commonly report suffering from unspecified chronic pain (57.0%), regardless of age or gender. This is consistent with other studies that have reported that 61.2 to 82.6% of patients seek medical cannabis for chronic pain (Boehnke et al. 2019; Sexton et al. 2016; Eurich et al. 2019; Reinarman et al. 2011). The second most commonly reported medical condition among patients was anxiety, which was also the most commonly reported comorbid condition. This is consistent with the results of a survey by Sexton et al. in which the second and third most common medical conditions reported by medical cannabis patients were anxiety (58.1%) and depression (50.3%) (Sexton et al. 2016). Gender was a significant predictor for most primary conditions, which is not surprising given that males and females have different risk factors, experiences, and perceptions of illness, and do not tend to report or be diagnosed with medical conditions in equal proportions (Seeman 1997; Buvinić et al. 2006; Westergaard et al. 2019).
Rigorous clinical trials investigating the use of medical cannabis to treat pain conditions, anxiety, insomnia, depression and PTSD would benefit a large number of patients, many of whom use medical cannabis to treat multiple conditions.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are those of the author and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.