Weed is Legal Across Canada Now: Mental Health Implications

Today cannabis became legal across Canada; seems like a good time to talk about it in relation to mental health. Let me state up front that I support legalization for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean I support it as a treatment for mental health. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t either. I’m curious. And cautiously optimistic.

CBD
Study showing possible CBD benefits

I set out today to fact-check some of the messages about mental health and cannabis. I read the standard information seen on the Canadian government and Canadian Mental Health Association websites and I went on a journey through my online library connection and found a number of recent academic journal articles that were relevant. I would have to write a lengthy post to summarize everything I read. Thankfully, churning out academic papers isn’t required here. Here I muse.

My research geek summary thoughts on this controversial subject:

  • Most research about cannabis does not meet the highest level of research rigor in large part due to the challenges working with a previously illegal substance: self-selecting participants, funder bias toward proving negative health impacts, to name a couple.
  • Few studies have been designed to eliminate co-morbid factors between mental health and marijuana use: for example, persons with mental illness using weed to self-medicate doesn’t mean the weed caused the mental health issue.
  • Research that separates the psychoactive component (THC) from the non-psychoactive component (CBD) is lacking.
  • Anecdotal evidence of the benefits of CBD for anxiety and depression needs to be tested by rigorous research.
review
Emerging evidence of help for PTSD, contraindication in psychosis

Given the gaps in our information, how should one proceed? For adults without any mental health issues, I support the approach the Canadian government has taken in treating it the same as alcohol: as an intoxicant sold only to adults in special locations.

However, if you have a mental health issue, I think this should become a discussion point with your doctor. If it seems to be something worth trying, I think it would be prudent to obtain and treat marijuana as a prescription drug.

anxiety
Study showing weed did not make anxiety disorders worse

Seem like a huge pain? There is a possibility of having it covered by your health insurance or health spending account. There are current reports of coverage with certain companies or in special cases.

Now that weed is legal in Canada, I think this will be a growing area of much-needed research and discussion.

Peace & progress,
Colleen

 

One thought on “Weed is Legal Across Canada Now: Mental Health Implications

  1. drkottaway

    I have had a small group of people trying very hard to stop using marijuana. The big issues are insomnia and anxiety. Until there is a lot more research, I consider it an addictive drug like alcohol. The standard for physicians in the US is that legal or not, we are likely to lose our malpractice insurance and hospital privileges if we use it. And the issues about driving while on marijuana are complex: if someone is in an accident, they may be tested. I just am not enthusiastic about anything addictive.

    Liked by 1 person

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