Cannabis and cannabinoids are increasingly being made available for medicinal use in North America, Britain and Australia without being subjected to standard testing processes Photo: AFP/File
health

Poor evidence cannabis improves mental health: study

20 Comments
By Philippe LOPEZ

People with psychiatric disorders may want to pass on the joint -- at least until further research is done, a new Australian study suggests.

The paper, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at 83 previous studies conducted over almost four decades on medical cannabinoids, including products from the cannabis plant, such as leaves, buds and oils, as well as pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids.

The authors found insufficient evidence that the products were safe and effective in treating six common disorders: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis.

Cannabis and cannabinoids are increasingly being made available for medicinal use in North America, Britain and Australia without being subjected to the standard process that includes testing and scrutinizing by government regulatory bodies, lead author Louisa Degenhardt told AFP.

"One of the most striking things about the spread of legislation in multiple countries permitting cannabis/cannabinoids for medicinal purposes is that this is in many instances happening outside of the regulatory frameworks that medicine development typically occurs within," said Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The study found that after chronic non-cancer pain, mental health is one of the most common reasons for using medicinal cannabinoids.

But no reviews have considered the varying effects of the different types of cannabinoids or their safety, and the only studies into long-term effects were conducted on individuals using cannabis for recreational use.

In most randomised-controlled trials of the effects of cannabinoids on depression and anxiety, the use was related to another condition, like chronic pain or multiple sclerosis.

Some studies showed improvement in anxiety symptoms, but it was unclear if that effect was due to improvements in the primary condition.

In one small study of patients with psychosis, pharmaceutical THC -- the active substance in cannabis -- actually worsened symptoms.

There are safety concerns as well.

"There are risks of developing dependence upon cannabis," said Degenhardt. "There are also risks if someone drives while intoxicated, and there [is] evidence that people who use cannabis regularly may be at increased risk of developing depression and psychotic symptoms."

Also, getting the drugs via the illicit market "carries risk of prosecution as well as unknown product content, quality and safety," added Tom Freeman, of the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath.

Medications that are proven to be effective and aren't addictive already exist for many of the conditions for which cannabis is being used, said Deepak Cyril D'Souza, of Yale University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, who wrote a commentary on the study.

A large study -- with a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial -- is the gold standard for determining the balance between a drug's efficacy and its side effects, D'Souza told AFP.

Until that is completed, "one cannot have confidence in attributing any beneficial effects observed in a clinical trial to cannabis."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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No drug improves mental health.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Cannabis is not a drug.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Yes it is.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So.. just ignore the first-hand information from the millions of people that vouch for its medicinal qualities? Ignore the reports of other studies that vouch for the legalization of cannabis?

Also, getting the drugs via the illicit market "carries risk of prosecution as well as unknown product content, quality and safety,"

[snip] and there [is] evidence that people who use cannabis regularly may be at increased risk of developing depression and psychotic symptoms."

Being stigmatized and/or criminalized for choosing to smoke some weed is enough to stress people out over time, too. So are the stresses of one's job, morgtage and the state of our societies that meddle in every aspect of our lives! Millions of people have been made into criminals because of these ridiculous views toward cannabis. What a tremendous waste!

Of course, overuse of anything will have undesired effects (painkillers, for example) but painting cannabis as something that will lead to psychosis in mentally healthy people is absurd! (source: observing hundreds of long-term cannabis enjoyers over a lifetime!) Mentally unhealthy people, on the other hand, will end up in psychosis even without having smoked cannabis. How can these academics possibly believe they have taken all the intangibles into account!?

Now turn that 'high-powered academic perception' toward purely man-made drugs (without funding from big-pharma or other corporations) such as; alcohol, painkillers, deppression and anxiety meds etc etc and tell me how they don't have any side-effects and that they are more worthy to have a place in our societies than something that grows naturally! FFS!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is a study of PREVIOUS studies. Going through the notes of others that made tentative studies and the timeline is over decades.

When new targeted studies are made, with the gold standard in testing, they will find out there was much they didnt know and a lot will be on the good side.

Cannabis does help with pain reduction and with regaining appetite. It also assists with sleep apnea. To treat mental disabilities will require accurate measured dosages of certain compounds in cannabis while leaving out other chemicals. This is what studies over time will determine.

It is not a cure all and it will not be 100% effective on all patients. What it will do is assist a large percentage of people. It is already proven to help with the effect of epilepsy by reducing episodes using the cannabis oil without the THC element.

Much more to learn for those willing to invest in studies.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So they used studies that were subsidised by anti "drug" governments over decades to reach this amazing conclusion. But ignore the benifit to other categories of sickness such as MS, cancer treatment side effects.....

Reefer Madness and a world view held in place with religious and political blinkers of course this report is what it is.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

THC and CBDs are drugs; one is psychoactive, the other not. There is only one mention in the article of which of the 2 drugs research focused on, and it appears that a pharmaceutical-grade version was used - so probably far more than 5x as powerful as high (ahem) grade cannabis. Also not suited to the purpose, as THC is known in some cases to exacerbate pre-existing psychosis. There is an overwhelming lack of empirical research on the physiological and psychological effects of natural substances which have been used for the treatment of various illnesses and conditions for centuries. Little wonder when you consider that most drug research is funded by pharmaceutical companies, who have a vested interest in the outcome.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Saw a very good documentary on TV this summer investigating the very different effects of THC and CBD. THC seems to be the one to produce negative mental states in some people.

In the meantime here is some background.

https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-thc#drug-testing

Quote:

THC is used to help with conditions such as:

pain

muscle spasticity

glaucoma

insomnia

low appetite

nausea

anxiety

CBD is used to help with other various conditions, such as:

seizures

inflammation

pain

psychosis or mental disorders

inflammatory bowel disease

nausea

migraines

depression

anxiety

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Anecdotal evidence from people and cold hard scientific research are two vastly different arenas. The nay sayers on the one side and the zero safety risk crew on the other are obviously lacking. The more of these studies the better. Probably those with mental health issues, although you may get some short term relief, long term dependence and over use and abuse is not a pretty sight. Tread carefully with all of this stuff. Keep check of yourself and those around you. The reality of things is complexity beyond comprehension.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The 70-year+ confusion over the uses of cannabis can be attributed to the irresponsible refusal of the US government and their satellites acting for political reasons and at the behest of vested commercial interests to promote scientific research into the pharmaceutical properties of the plant.

For serious mental issues like addiction and depression only hallucinogens and other powerful psychoactive agents (NOT weed) will be effective, but again research is half a century behind thanks to the ignorance, indifference and criminal neglect of people in government who should have spared a thought for the mental suffering of so many citizens.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have heard people say that they enjoy cannabis, and I have heard people say that it helps with some symptoms of chemotherapy, but I have never, ever, before reading this article, heard someone say that cannabis improves mental health. That is like saying that a couple shots of saké improves mental health, is it not?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cannabis ain't got nothin' on chocolate when it comes to improving mental health.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Several of my friends had/have family members who suffer from ailments that have been reduced by using the drug for medicinal purposes. It's essential that research continues. In the meantime, everything in moderation.

(obvs depending on the country's laws, natch)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Predictably, marijuana fans cry foul. Big surprise!

Don’t take away their high...more like don’t believe they are all concerned about its “medicinal effects.” That’s called bait and switch.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Strangerland

Yes it is.

Your recent posts show a distinct lack of factual evidence.

I’m hoping this trend won’t continue?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don’t take away their high...more like don’t believe they are all concerned about its “medicinal effects.” That’s called bait and switch.

Personally, when I have smoked it, it's for the psychoactive effects, not the medicinal ones. The medicinal effects are just a bonus.

What's wrong with wanting to get high? It's weird people have decided there is something morally wrong with that. I think they're just confused.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your recent posts show a distinct lack of factual evidence.

I give the requisite amount of evidence to the statement I'm pointing out to be incorrect. In this case:

Cannabis is not a drug.

No argument provided, just a statement. My reply therefore is a statement:

Yes it is.

If anyone would like to further the argument that cannabis isn't a drug, I'd be happy to debate it to the degree that they are willing to. But I'm not going to waste more time pointing out that someone's point is wrong than they used to make the point in the first place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What's wrong with wanting to get high?

Nothing in particular. However pretty much no proponents of marijuana use say that they just like to get high. Rather, they promote it as some kind of cure-all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nothing in particular. However pretty much no proponents of marijuana use say that they just like to get high. Rather, they promote it as some kind of cure-all.

Really? I’ve known very people who used it medicinally. Pretty much everyone I ever smoked with was pretty clear they were into it for the recreational factor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 Pretty much everyone I ever smoked with was pretty clear they were into it for the recreational factor

Me too. But nobody on these forums ever says that. They’re all on about how it cures this and that. I just don’t like the disingenuousness of it. If you want to get high, then say that.

Actually, you’re the first person who I’ve seen post that. Kudos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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