The study, published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, found that responsible marijuana use can help combat mental illnesses such as PTSD and treat substance abuse disorders, including opioid addiction.
A research team led by Zach Walsh at the University of British Columbia reached the conclusion after reviewing 60 studies analyzing the effects of marijuana on mental health and substance abuse. Their findings indicated that cannabis shows potential for treating the symptoms of PTSD, depression, and social anxiety disorder.
“This is a substance that has potential use for mental health,” Walsh said. “We should be looking at it in the same way [as other drugs] and be holding it up to the same standard.”
Additionally, the review found that medical marijuana use may help patients with substance abuse problems by acting as a substitute.
“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” Walsh said.
Other studies have found that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications including pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, movement disorders, even cancer. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, which can help patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, and dementia. What’s more, not a single fatal overdose has ever been linked to the drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While marijuana is still far and away the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S., with more than 20 million users over the past month alone, it is being increasingly legalized for medical and/or recreational uses. In last week’s election, reform of marijuana laws won in eight of the nine states where it was put on the ballot, the strongest signal to date that America is ready to embrace change and leave the antiquated prohibitionist laws of yesteryear behind.