Tag: Studies

Could Cannabis Eventually Replace Anti-Anxiety Medications?

A recent study thought to be the first of its kind has found that regular cannabis use may make a person less prone to anxiety over time, even when sober.

The study, published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology, found that people who use cannabis daily or almost daily had a blunted stress reaction when exposed to a high-stress situation after a period of abstinence from marijuana. While non-cannabis users reported feeling anxious and experienced elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol when stressed, chronic cannabis users reported lower levels of anxiety, and their cortisol levels remained the same under high stress as they they were under no stress.

“The potential effects of cannabis on stress do appear to extend beyond the period of intoxication.”

Dr. Carrie Cuttler, study co-author

The research involved 40 people who had used cannabis chronically over the previous year and 42 people who’d used cannabis no more than 10 times in their lives and not at all in the previous year. All participants abstained from using cannabis from 12 to 18 hours prior to the study.

“Based on our findings, the potential effects of cannabis on stress do appear to extend beyond the period of intoxication,” Dr. Carrie Cuttler, a researcher and clinical assistant professor at Washington State University and co-author of the study, told Leafly.

“But,” she cautions, “We’re not yet comfortable saying whether that muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing.”

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We do know that too much cortisol is definitely a bad thing. It’s been associated with everything from anxiety and depression to digestive issues, heart disease, insomnia and memory problems. But too little cortisol can also be problematic, since the hormone helps us tap into stored energy and respond appropriately to stressful situations.

Cuttler says further research is needed to determine whether the lowered cortisol response exhibited by chronic cannabis users is ultimately therapeutic or detrimental when it comes to managing anxiety long-term. She adds that they did, however, make a promising finding regarding cannabis and dependency.

“We looked at the withdrawal symptoms of chronic users to see if they experienced heightened levels of and cannabis cravings when stressed,” she reveals, “and surprisingly, we didn’t find any evidence that they did.”

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US. An estimated 40 million American adults, or just over 18% of the population, are affected by anxiety disorders every year.

Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin are often prescribed for short-term relief from acute anxiety and panic attacks. While they’re incredibly effective in the short term, side effects can include fatigue, confusion, and disorientation, and tolerance and dependency can develop quickly — in 2015, over 8,000 Americans died by overdosing on benzodiazepines.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft are often prescribed for long-term relief from anxiety disorders, but they come with their own long lists of potential negative side effects ranging from insomnia and drowsiness to headaches, low libido, and increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety is also among the most commonly cited reasons for cannabis use, and research suggests that it has relatively few negative side effects, low potential for addiction and virtually no risk for an overdose. But because it remains classified as a schedule 1 drug at the federal level, little research has been done to investigate the long-term therapeutic potential of cannabis to treat anxiety—until Cuttler’s recent study.

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Next, Cuttler and her colleagues plan to repeat the study with a longer period of cannabis abstinence to see whether their findings still hold true. They also eventually hope to replicate the study with rats to confirm their findings.

“One of the limitations of this research is that we can’t ethically manipulate who uses cannabis daily and who does not,” Cuttler explains. “So while our research indicates that they have a blunted stress response, it could be that people who are already less prone to stress are also more prone to being chronic cannabis users. With rats, we can manipulate both stress and cannabis.”

Another recent study published in Pharmacological Research found that cannabidiol (CBD) may enhance the efficacy of the neurotransmitter GABA, which works to counteract and calm the chemicals triggered by cortisol in the brain’s anxiety response, like glucose. While high doses of THC actually have the potential to cause increased anxiety, CBD is non-intoxicating, so it doesn’t carry the same same risk.

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While all of this emerging research is promising, Cuttler emphasizes that when it comes to anxiety, neither marijuana nor pharmaceuticals should ever be the first course of treatment.

“As a psychologist, I believe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the ideal treatment for anxiety,” she says. “In the short term, anti-anxiety meds and CBT have equivalent outcomes, but long-term, the effects of eight to 10 CBT sessions outlast those of medications without any of the negative side effects. I see cannabis the same way — it may help treat the symptoms of anxiety, but it won’t address the root cause.”


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Recreational Marijuana Shops Help Increase Home Values, Study Finds

ATHENS, GA — Cannabis retail facilities are associated with increased home values, according to data to be published in the journal Real Estate Economics.

Researchers from the University of Georgia at Athens, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and California State University Sacramento assessed the relationship between operational retail cannabis facilities in Denver, Colorado and fluctuations in nearby housing values.

Authors reported that single family residences within 0.1 miles of a retail marijuana establishment saw an increase in value of approximately 8.4 percent compared to those located slightly further – between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles – from the site. That increase in property value was estimated to be almost $27,000 for an average house in the area.

They concluded, “In addition to sales and business taxes generated by the retail marijuana industry, the associated increase in property tax revenues represents another potentially appealing selling point for legalization.”

The findings are similar to those of a University of Mississippi paper which determined, “[L]egalizing retail marijuana leads to an average 6 percent housing value appreciation.”

Full text of the study, “Contact high: The external effects of retail marijuana establishments on house prices,” appears in Real Estate Economics.

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Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use, Study Finds

CHICAGO, IL — Patients enrolled in a statewide medical cannabis program are likely to reduce their use of conventional prescription drugs over time, according to data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Care.

Investigators from DePaul University and Rush University, College of Nursing assessed prescription drug use patterns in 34 patients registered to use cannabis therapy under Illinois law.

Respondents frequently reported using medical cannabis “as an alternative to other medications – most commonly opioids, but also anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatories, and over-the-counter analgesics.” Subjects reported that they believed cannabis is faster acting than conventional prescription drugs and that it possesses fewer adverse side effects.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur results indicate that MC (medical cannabis) may be used intentionally to taper off prescription medications. These findings align with previous research that has reported substitution or alternative use of cannabis for prescription pain medications due to concerns regarding addiction and better side-effect and symptom management, as well as complementary use to help manage side-effects of prescription medication.”

The findings are similar to those of numerous others similarly reporting that legal cannabis access is associated with lower rates of prescription drug usespendingabuse, and mortality.

Full text of the study, “Preferences for medical marijuana over prescription medications among persons living with chronic conditions,” appears in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Care.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Can Lead to Decrease in Painkiller Abuse: Study

ATHENS, GA — Cannabis dispensaries are associated with reduced levels of opioid-related treatment admissions and overall drug mortality, according to a study published online on SSRN.com.

A University of Georgia economics professor assessed the relationship between the opening of medical cannabis dispensaries and drug treatment admissions.

Dispensary openings are associated with “a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment over the first two-years of dispensary operations,” the study reported. This correlation was strongest among non-Hispanic white males in their thirties.

Dispensary openings also resulted in fewer drug-related mortalities per 100,000 people.

The author concludes, “[T]he unintended beneficial effects of allowing for marijuana dispensary operations should be considered by policymakers as they aim to curtail narcotic abuse and limit the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

The paper’s findings are similar to prior studies reporting that states permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.

Full text of the study, “The effect of medical marijuana dispensaries on adverse opioid outcomes,” appears online.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study Finds Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Drive Increased Use, But Vice Versa

Marijuana legalization is not the cause of  increased  marijuana use nationwide, a new study finds. Instead it’s the other way around: Marijuana legalization reflects increased acceptance of marijuana.

In the study, published this month in the journal Addiction, researchers from the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group examined 30 years’ worth of data from National Alcohol Surveys, which also include questions on marijuana use, and compared that data to changes in state laws.

What they found is not that pot policy drives behavior, but vice versa.

“Medical and recreational marijuana policies did not have any significant association with increased marijuana use,” the authors concluded. “Marijuana policy liberalization over the past 20 years has certainly been associated with increased marijuana use; however, policy changes appear to have occurred in response to changing attitudes within states and to have effects on attitudes and behaviors more generally in the U.S.”

Increasing marijuana use is “primarily explained by period effects,” or social factors that impact populations across age and generational groups, and not by policy changes, the authors insist.

“The steep rise in marijuana use in the United States since 2005 occurred across the population and is attributable to general period effects not specifically linked to the liberalization of marijuana policies in some states,” the paper concluded.

Those effects could include declining disapproval of marijuana among the overall population caused by increasing familiarity with the plant, as well as a tendency in surveys from earlier years for respondents to understate their actual marijuana usage.

The notion that policy does not drive drug use levels is not new. Academic researchers Peter Cohen and Craig Reinarman reported similar findings back in 2004.

But the implications of such research are important: If drug policy has little impact on drug use levels, why have punitive drug policies?


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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Medical Students Aren’t Being Taught About Medical Marijuana

ST LOUIS, MO — Medical students are rarely provided with educational information specific to the medicinal use of cannabis and are ill equipped to discuss the issue with their patients, according to survey data published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis surveyed medical school deans and residents and evaluated curriculum databases to assess the degree of education physicians-in-training receive on the topic of medical marijuana.

Authors reported: “Over 75 percent of medical school curriculum deans reported that their graduates are not at all prepared or are only slightly prepared to answer patients’ questions about medical marijuana, and 94 percent reported that their graduates are not at all prepared or only slightly prepared to prescribe medical marijuana.”

In addition, fewer than ten percent of medical schools have medical marijuana documented in their curriculum.

A 2015 study similarly reported that 90 percent of pharmacy students believe that greater emphasis on medical cannabis ought to be included in their curriculum.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur study highlights a fundamental and potentially growing mismatch between the legalization of medical marijuana at a state level and the ability of physicians to properly address patients’ questions about medical marijuana or to appropriately prescribe it. … With more states on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, we must address this mismatch between policy and physician training so that we can best help our patients obtain the potential benefits and minimize adverse consequences from using medical marijuana.”

Full text of the study, “Physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana,” appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study: Perceived Marijuana Access Declining Among Youth

The percentage of young people who believe that they can readily access marijuana has fallen significantly since 2002, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

A team of investigators from Boston University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina, and St. Louis University examined trends in perceived cannabis access among adolescents for the years 2002 to 2015.

Authors reported: “[W]e observed a 27 percent overall reduction in the relative proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 17 and a 42 percent reduction among those ages 12 to 14 reporting that it would be ‘very easy’ to obtain marijuana. This pattern was uniformly observed among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups.”

They concluded, “Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that … perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth.”

The new data is consistent with figures published last year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported, “From 2002 to 2014, … perceived availability [of marijuana] decreased by 13 percent among persons aged 12–17 years and by three percent among persons aged 18?25 years [old].”

An abstract of the study, “Trends in perceived access to marijuana among adolescents in the United States: 2002-2015,” is online here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study: No Link Between Marijuana Use and HIV-Related Mortality

PROVIDENCE, RI — Cannabis use is not associated with increased mortality risk in HIV-infected men, according to data published online ahead of print in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

A team of investigators from the Veterans Administration, Brown University, Yale University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the National Institutes of Health assessed drug use and mortality in a cohort of 3,099 HIV-positive men over a nine-year period.

Both the use of alcohol and stimulants were associated with negative effects on five-year mortality risk. By contrast, cannabis use was not independently associated with mortality risk.

Separate studies report that the use of cannabis by HIV/AIDS patients is associated with higher CD4 and CD8 cell counts, as well as with greater adherence to antiretroviral therapy regimens.

Full text of the study, “Association of cannabis, stimulant, and alcohol use with mortality prognosis among HIV-infected men,” appears in AIDS and Behavior.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Medical Marijuana Patients Reduce Prescription Drug Use, Study Finds

Chronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

“Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioidsbenzodiazepinesanti-depressantsmigraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study: Trauma Patients Report Marijuana Helps Reduce Opioid Use

BOSTON, MA — Patients who have used medical cannabis following musculoskeletal injury report that it relieves pain symptoms and reduces their level of opioid intake, according to survey data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.

Harvard Medical School investigators surveyed 500 patients at a pair of orthopedic outpatient clinics. Of those respondents who acknowledged having used cannabis to assist in recuperating from injury over the past six months, 90 percent said that it was effective at reducing their pain.

Eighty-one percent said that the use of cannabis reduced their intake of opioids.

“[I]n the subset of patients who used marijuana during their recovery, a majority indicated that it helped alleviate symptoms of pain and reduced their level of opioid intake,” authors concluded.

The findings are similar to those of prior studies finding that patients with access to cannabis frequently report mitigating their use of opioid pain relievers and other conventional prescription drugs.

Full text of the study, “Patient perceptions of the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of pain following musculoskeletal trauma: A survey of patients at two trauma centers in Massachusetts,” appears in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.