Categorized | Medical Uses

Effects of Medical Cannabis on Mental Health

Behavioral Effects

Studies have been done for centuries either by individuals, the government and other 3rd parties in which the studies may or may not have been done fairly to all parties.  Behavioral Effects of marijuana have been studied by numerous groups and individuals on a wide rage of the population to determine the Effects of Medical Cannabis on Mental Health of those individuals.  When a study is done, it can have a variety of criteria that is to be determined and the guidelines that are used can be lenient to point.  There are various groups that the government can obtain certain information from that may lack credibility as the studies can be self-administered and done anonymously.  In addition, information can be sought by a certain group of people compared to a random selection which would obtain a better result of information. {{{o}}}

Many studies have been done to show that there is a higher rate of drop outs in schools and lower grades from students who use compared to those who don’t.  In addition, some studies can gear their information search more specifically towards the users rather than the nonusers in which will offset the study and give a more negative result for the final study results.  When studies are more generalized between both users and nonusers, the final tallies seem to be more balanced between the two categories regarding various social statuses that both may have.

mental health picIn comparing independent studies of college students, there was little difference between the users and nonusers in regards to grades as well as determining what their goals are.  It does appear that users are less likely to develop depression than nonusers.  Are the studies invalid or are the behavioral effects better or worse?

Gateway Drug Hypothesis

This hypothesis is basing its theory that the use of cannabis leads to the use of harder drugs.  This could be the result of criminalization in countries in which users are associated with organized crime which promotes illegal trading of drugs.  Studies have been done to approve and disprove this hypothesis in addition to determining that even alcohol and nicotine can be gateways to the use of harder drugs.  A recent study done by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) determined that the use of cannabis was not what determined if the person advanced to using harder drugs, but the environment and peers that the person was involved with.

Co-Occurrence of Mental Illness

Various studies have done to determine if persons that may have the beginnings of mental illness will develop more severe mental problems and if these issues were linked to drug usage.  Some of the study results are questionable as the difference between the reason of the use, medical compared to recreational, was not taken into consideration.  At this time, there appears to not be enough supporting evidence to hold that the drug use does worsen with hightened mental illness issues.

Similarity of Symptoms

A very rare classification of psychosis within DSM-IV is called Cannabis Psychosis and when Cannabis is ingested by a susceptible person the drug can cause an acute psychotic occurrence.  The susceptibility of the occurrence is greatly based on the person’s past experience with Cannabis.  Pure delta-9-THC has been shown in one study to show symptoms that resemble those of schizophrenia with no side effects within 6 months after the study.

Causality vs. Correlation

There are studies that have determined that the use of Cannabis may not be a condition that necessarily causes a mental health condition but may cause a reaction that is similar to psychosis.  Some studies for this comparison do not take into consideration other drugs that may be used nor if the user has had mental issues prior to the study which makes an invalid study.  In addition, if a study results are self-reporting then, again, the results of the study are not a true sampling for accurate results.

As with any study, prior and future conditions can not be predetermined as medical illness can be the onset of any number of factors.  It can be guestimated of some patients that perhaps an overuse of illicit drugs could possibly cause psychotic mental illness in conjunction with other factors.

The results of the studies regarding the increase of mental health illnesses after the use of Cannabis is increasingly becoming a bigger concern; although there is still not sufficient evidence to state that marijuana is the base cause.

Tobacco vs. Cannabis

The affects of smoking tobacco has been well established in recent years but the effects of smoking cannabis are actually somewhat similar to the tobacco effects.  There is a difference in which tobacco tends to affect the smaller, peripheral passages in the lungs and cannabis affects the larger, more central passages.  In addition, if tobacco is added to the cannabis mix when smoked, the user will expose their body to the effects of both tobacco and cannabis.

Cancer

There have been numerous studies to determine if smoking cannabis causes cancer.  Most of the studies were not successful in determining that cannabis can cause cancer but in fact, it can possibly help reduce some factors of cancer.

Reducing Harm

Cannabinoids are not carcinogenic, unlike nicotine, but does contain tars in the smoke just like ciggerettes and is considered a cause of smoking related cancers.  The best way to avoid this is to not smoke but by eating the cannabis; reducing the cannabinoids to a fat or alcoholic drink is an easier way to intake the cannabis without taking in the tar.

Adjusting and monitoring the intake of increased potent dosages, which has less tar, is by using hashish, high quality cannabis or honey oil.  Another alternative is to use vaporizers which heat the product and the released byproduct is inhaled.

Driving and Cannabis  

At this time, there is no established “base line” for what constitutes an illegal limit to be considered a dangerous driver.  In addition, there are no estimates to determine how many drivers are on the roads who are, at the time of driving, are under the influence of marijuana therefore it is difficult to determine the risks that are being taken every day.

There are some statistics available based on a study done in the United Kingdom on young males who consume both cannabis and alcohol.  This group of people were determined to be in a higher risk for accidents but also the determination was based on inexperience in driving.  These results, therefore, are more of a generalization as not all circumstances can be taken into consideration of the people in the study.

Tasks that have been done in a secure environment may have a different result when done in the “real world”.  After consuming cannabis, the driver may be more cautious but may have longer decision times therefore causing a possible accident.  With this in mind, it is difficult to state if consuming cannabis can definitely alter ones ability to drive safely.

It has been determined that the effects of smoking cannabis can last up to an hour and that approximate 11ng/ml TCH is the equivalent to the legal limit of alcohol.  There is a small percentage of accidents in which cannabis levels were measured but the majority of these cases also include high levels of alcohol.  This combination makes it difficult to determine what actually caused the accident.

Other federal governments around the globe have also made similar studies and have come to the same conclusion that it is difficult to determine if cannabis actually causes the accident but the incidents also involve alcohol creating a limited validity of the studies.

 

Image courtesy of ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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