One of marijuana’s most common medicinal uses is to provide relief for conditions like depression and anxiety. But a new study suggests these types of consumers are more likely to overuse cannabis within a short span of time, leading to cannabis use disorder and poor relief from the initial symptoms they were treating.
The study, published in JAMA Network Open, followed over 200 adult patients in Boston who were all looking for their medical marijuana cards. They were divided into two groups: one who was given their medical marijuana cards immediately, and another, who had to wait 12 weeks to get their cards.
The study shows that those who obtained their medical cannabis card immediately were more likely to develop cannabis use disorder, a condition where people depend on the drug to feel better. When using marijuana for anxiety or depression, their risk of cannabis use disorder increased by 20%.
Other findings made by researchers include the fact that those who obtained their medical cards immediately didn’t report better mental health, but they did report better sleep habits and better overall health. Despite the fact that cannabis is often recommended for treatment for people with affective disorders, the study found that the plant didn’t provide the positive results that were expected.
“Our study underscores the need for better decision-making about whether to begin to use cannabis for specific medical complaints, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, which are associated with an increased risk of cannabis use disorder,” said lead author Jodi Gilman.
The scientific data on cannabis and mental health remains in its early stages. Though much anecdotal evidence correlates the two, when it comes to science and facts, there remain a lot of questions. While some studies have found positive connections between cannabis and affective disorders, others have found the opposite. It’s important for cannabis to be researched extensively, especially if people are planning on replacing their usual medications with cannabis.