It may sound like a bit of an anomaly, but using marijuana therapeutically could addicts kick their habit, a comprehensive review of scientific literature has found. Apart from aiding in substance abuse, the opioid can also help in the treatment of mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, where a person who has witnessed a scary, shocking or traumatic incident continues to display prolonged signs of stress, anxiety and possibly, fear.

The scientists at University of British Columbia, Canada reviewed 60 scientific articles that were related to the use of cannabis for therapeutic purpose and mental health, and the use of cannabis and mental health that did not focus on therapeutic purposes.

The evidence showed that the therapeutic marijuana could have more benefits than harm and could work as a substitute for the problematic use of other substances.

Case for legalisation

The use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is deemed illegal in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Patients, particularly those with cancer seeking palliative treatment, have been asking for opioids, particularly morphine, to be more easily available. Cannabis, in limited doses, is known to help alleviate pain and ease symptoms of nausea.

Study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, associate professor of Pyschology at the Canadian University.
Study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, associate professor of Pyschology at the Canadian University.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” said the study’s lead investigator Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the Canadian University.

The evidence suggests that the therapeutic use of cannabis does not increase the risk of harm to self or others. However, it should not be used for patients with bipolar disorder and psychosis, the review concluded.

“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” said Walsh in the release.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review. Also on the research team were Walsh’s colleagues Michelle Thiessen, Kim Crosby, and Chris Carroll; Raul Gonzalez from Florida State University; and Marcel Bonn-Miller from the National Centre for PTSD and Center for Innovation and Implementation in California.