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Marijuana and Mental Health: Can It Cause More Harm Than Good?

Psychiatrists and many other mental health specialists still have many unanswered questions regarding the legalization of marijuana. There is strong evidence that medical marijuana has beneficial impacts on mental health. However, there are few cases where medical marijuana can affect more than we bargained for. In this blog, we will walk you through the pros and cons of medical marijuana on mental health.

38 states in the US have already legalized the consumption of medical marijuana and also recreational use. As we navigate our way through this miracle drug, many netizens have raised their concerns regarding marijuana. Some believe it would only lead to more crime, corruption, drug abuse and malpractices. Interestingly, many countries that have already legalized marijuana were seen to have decreased crime rates and fewer drug overdose cases. There is no evidence of marijuana being directly related to this graph but it could be one of the reasons.

Medical Marijuana: The Harm

There are certain disadvantages, though, especially for teenagers and young adults. Numerous studies, including a recent one from New Zealand, came to the conclusion that early teen marijuana users may experience long-term memory loss, IQ decline, poor job and academic performance, and an increased risk of developing depression as adults. This tendency is more prevalent in trauma survivors, who are also between 4 and 7 times more likely to become dependent on alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

Moreover, marijuana can cause increased impulsiveness, heightened anxiety, impaired driving ability, paranoia and apathy. Even among those without a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, marijuana has a larger chance of inducing psychosis now than it did in the 1960s, most likely because of the THC’s increased potency.

Unfortunately, adults are also at much risk of getting affected as adolescent and young adult patients. Brains of adolescents and young adult patients are still developing until the late 20s and since 2019 the increased rates of adolescent use have only caused more reasons of concern.

Medical Marijuana: The Good

Since ancient times, medical marijuana has been used for its therapeutic, medicinal and euphoric effects. Additionally, it has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect which helps with chronic pain relief. Moreover, it might be helpful for those who have some types of epilepsy, MS, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, it reduces nausea in chemotherapy-treated cancer patients. Even some preliminary studies by neurologist Gary Wenk point to marijuana’s potential to delay memory loss associated with aging by lowering inflammation in the brain.

With different degrees of efficacy, several of my psychiatric patients utilized it to cure their insomnia, anxiety, and depression; in certain instances, it worsened their condition. Additionally, marijuana has been known to “expand consciousness,” which results in a greater appreciation of life’s simple pleasures (such as eating well and enjoying the outdoors and listening to music).

The use of marijuana has increased by more than 75 percent in just three years. Many of these people, who used marijuana in their 60s or 70s, are now looking for support for aging-related anxiety and chronic medical conditions. But still, getting access to medical marijuana is not that easy without a doctor’s recommendation, which comes with many benefits, from tax to the amount you can consume within a 30-day period. To apply for a medical marijuana card in Stockton, you need to have your health condition evaluated by the state’s licensed marijuana doctor.

Final Note

It is evident that more research is necessary to fully understand the challenges as physicians working with medical marijuana, where we are just starting to gain experience. Understanding which ailments respond best to specific THC/CBD doses and ratios, being aware of potentially dangerous drug combinations, and utilizing it sensibly to prevent misuse and dependence are all part of this. It will be necessary to change marijuana’s classification from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug in order to conduct the required human study.

Medical marijuana does have a lot to offer and smoking it up just contradicts the whole idea of using it to its fullest. The gap in research is probably one of the many reasons hindering its positive usage. Lastly, overusing everything is harmful which is also the case with marijuana.

Given the benefits and drawbacks, we must continue to create interdisciplinary committees at significant medical facilities, academic institutions, and community-based organizations to advance essential research and instruct both experts and the general public. The best qualified medical and mental health specialists should be on these committees, which should collaborate with local and state governments. Let’s move forward, but with the proper amount of caution, so that marijuana can be introduced to our community safely.

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