Cannabis and Mental Health


Guest Post: Marisa Timko

With the rapid legalization of medical marijuana in the United States, there have been extensive claims about the restorative benefits of the chemicals found in cannabis. Proponents of medical herb are promoting chemicals like CBD and THC—both of which are found in marijuana—as medicinal remedies for nearly every ailment, including arthritis, inflammation, insomnia, glaucoma, nausea, pain, and a plethora of others. But how does cannabis relate to mental health?

Can Pot Make You Violent or Turn You Into Burnout?

Before getting into the ways that pot can be used to medically treat psychological conditions, we should first discuss what it doesn’t do.

For decades, opponents of cannabis exaggerated the mood-altering properties of marijuana to frighten recreational users and to stave off legalization. Nowhere is this more comically evident than the famous scene in the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness where a deranged pot-smoking lunatic bludgeons another partygoer to death in a fit of paranoia. This would be a very unlikely side effect of smoking even a tremendous amount of weed. A study conducted in the Netherlands, demonstrated that participants became less violent while smoking marijuana, and unsurprisingly to many, more aggressive when drinking alcohol.

Another commonly exaggerated stereotype in the movies is the “pothead” or “burnout.” The idea here is that prolonged and intensive use of marijuana can make one mentally dull. There have been multiple studies demonstrating the deleterious effects of long-term, regular cannabis usage, including memory loss, IQ decline, and a blunted dopamine response. Limited, short-term usage, however, didn’t result in the same conditions.

Using Cannabis to Treat Mental Health Conditions

Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis offers a holistic approach to several mental health issues, and there have been multiple studies showing that it works with varying degrees of success.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Marijuana

In a study involving war veterans with PTSD, there was a strong indication that the use of cannabis alleviates PTSD and reduces the effects of situational triggers. In other words, patients noticed a decline in “reliving” the trauma and experienced a reduction in the need to avoid situations that reminded them of the trauma.

Cannabis as an Anti-Anxiety Drug

Anxiety is a general term that can be used to describe a feeling of uneasiness that can result from day-to-day activities (general anxiety disorder), or it can be triggered by specific events, such as getting on an elevator, flying on a plane, or having to address a crowd of people. Patients who suffer from anxiety have found that marijuana lessens the severity of their apprehension.

Marijuana and Depression

Marijuana is by no means a cure-all for depression. There has, however, been strong indications that marijuana can be an effective treatment for patients with certain specific kinds of depression. Certain compounds in cannabis can elevate your mood through the release of naturally-occurring chemicals in the brain, resulting in an elevated mood.

As is the case with all medicines, your doctor should monitor the use of medical marijuana for psychological conditions. The effects of cannabis use can vary from patient to patient depending on dosage, length of use, and individual body chemistry.

Medical Marijuana Mental Health and the Law

Even if you live in a state that has legalized marijuana for medical use, you may not be able to obtain it to treat a mental-health issue. Some states don’t list mental-health conditions among the approved illnesses for medical marijuana use. In some jurisdictions, doctors are only allowed to prescribe low-THC marijuana, which may not work on your particular ailment. It’s also important to note that some of the states that have passed medical marijuana laws only allow ingestion of cannabis via specific methods, like vaping or edibles, and only in private spaces.

The Advantages of Vaping Cannabis Oil

Smoking marijuana from a pipe or in cigarette form can be intrusive to others and possibly illegal, depending on which state you live in. But what happens when you need a dose of your medical marijuana when you’re in a public space or in someone else’s home? Using a cannabis oil vaporizer or a vape pen is a non-intrusive way for you to be able to take your medication without disturbing others. Today's cannabis vaporizers are light, small enough to slip in your pocket or bag, and can contain a large number of doses.

Most states that have legalized medical marijuana allow vaporizers as a vehicle for consumption. It’s one of the reasons that herb vaporizers have become so overwhelmingly popular. You should consult your prescribing doctor and familiarize yourself with the laws of your state regarding the use of cannabis vaporizers before consuming medical marijuana.

About the Author: Marisa Timko

Marisa Timko is the content manager at TheVape.Guide - a leading site for all things vaping. TheVape.Guide is the authority for device and product reviews for dry herb, concentrate, and e-liquid vaping. We test, review, and rate vaporizers, e-liquids, e-nails, grinders, trays, and more. We also specialized in product comparisons, best lists and coupons for the leading vaporizer stores and manufacturers.