Evidence supports marijuana use for treating mental health issues

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Mounting evidence from trials shows positive benefits of cannabis in mental health treatment

There has been, for some time now, anecdotal evidence to indicate that cannabis could be beneficial in treating mental disorders. What has been lacking is substantiated, scientific evidence. This is changing, however, and researchers are now discovering more evidence that the plant’s compounds can definitely provide positive results without the side effects often seen in lab-created chemicals.

The University of British Columbia is conducting clinical trials of cannabis as part of a therapy program for psychiatric disorders. The final results won’t be available until next year; however, the lead investigator in the experiment has been encouraged by what the experiments have shown so far. The investigator, University of British Columbia Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Zachary Walsh, explains, “60% of patients who are using it suggest that [cannabis] has been effective or very effective.”

He added, “The reason we’re using cannabis for post-traumatic stress disorder is because there are so many reports of people with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], particularly veterans speaking about how cannabis has been helpful to them. There are certainly people with PTSD symptoms who try the existing treatments which are behaviour therapies or sometimes antidepressants and their symptoms don’t go away so we need more options.”

Tilray, the largest cannabis producer in Canada, is assisting with the investigation. According to the company’s VP of Patient Research and Access, Philippe Lucas, “Ultimately, mental health conditions are the number two reason why patients cite using medical cannabis, typically after chronic pain.” He added that the studies will prove to be beneficial to further cannabis acceptance, stating, “Science is just catching up with what patients have long shared with us.”

Lucas recognizes the difficulties in trying to convince the masses that there are true benefits to marijuana use, especially when going up against multimillion-dollar pharmaceutical industries. he says, “They are keepers of cultural norms as well as healers, and there is a cultural norm against cannabis and certain physicians seem eager to uphold it even when it seems to be inconsistent with other aspects of their practice.”

But if it’s compared to the types of cocktails of pharmaceuticals that many people with PTSD are prescribed and still don’t find relief of symptoms we need to take a look at the risks of using cannabis compared to existing treatments that are certainly less than perfect.”