Cannabis ‘Not That Safe, Effective’ In Treating Common Disorders

The move to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes by 33 U.S. states (as of 2019) may be shortsighted since it promotes an unhealthy practice, a recent paper published by The Lancet Psychiatry on Monday indicated. 

The latest research said that cannabinoid compounds that come from the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) could effectively worsen the symptoms of psychiatric disorders, which the substances are meant to cure. The meta-analysis of 83 randomized controlled trials was performed by National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. 

They searched papers published from Jan 1, 1980 to April 30, 2018 on several databases such as MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, EU Clinical Trials Register and Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, among several others.

“We considered all studies examining any type and formulation of a medicinal cannabinoid in adults (≥18 years) for treating depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis, either as the primary condition or secondary to other medical conditions,” as per researchers of the study.

“We placed no restrictions on language, publication status, or study type (ie, both experimental and observational study designs were included),” the researchers added. 

Besides chronic pain, medicinal cannabinoids are used extensively to treat mental health, the study revealed. Despite this knowledge, none of the studies had looked into the long-term effects of cannabinoid consumption on psychiatric patients. Studies had only considered side effects on adults who used cannabis for recreational purposes. 

Marijuana Scientists continue to explore the health benefits of cannabis amid the growing number of people welcoming the use of the drug. Pixabay

Another interesting finding was that when the effect of consuming cannabinoids was observed in the studies, it simultaneously affected another condition such as chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.

“There is scarce evidence to suggest that cannabinoids improve depressive disorders and symptoms, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis. There is very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) leads to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety among individuals with other medical conditions,” the researchers stated.

“There remains insufficient evidence to provide guidance on the use of cannabinoids for treating mental disorders within a regulatory framework. Further high-quality studies directly examining the effect of cannabinoids on treating mental disorders are needed,” the researchers added. 

“There is growing public interest in the use of cannabis and its principal constituent cannabinoids, Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol, for a plethora of conditions, including psychiatric disorders,” Deepak Cyril D'Souza of Yale University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, warned in his commentary on the study. “In parallel, there is considerable commercial interest in touting these products as treatments for various disorders. As a result, health practitioners need to be well informed about this topic.”