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Cannabis as Medicine? Overview

It is utterly mind-blowing that people have no idea that Cannabis has been part of the medical prescription landscape for over 20 years. That’s right T. G. A (Therapeutic Goods Administration) trialled and approved cannabis based medicines have been available as an option to alleviate, if only in small ways, some of the symptoms of a couple of diseases or help with recovery from treatment. However, the claims of this plant being a ‘miracle cure’ for just about everything, have existed for of 100 years… yet in no credible and advanced research has any of the properties of the Cannabis plant ‘cured’ anything, ever!

There is no argument that some components of this incredibly complex plant can have some therapeutic benefit, be it ever so small, but deriving such from the plant with out co-opting some of the more detrimental components has proven incredibly difficult. On top of that, the evidence emerging from latest science, sees that some of these therapies, do more harm than good, with the temporary alleviating of a symptom on one hand, and incurring along term genetic harm on the other!

Again if facts and evidence matter to your best-practice health care, then this is the space for you. Make informed decisions based on science, and not quackery!

Interactive effects of PTSD and substance use on suicidal ideation and behavior in military personnel: Increased risk from marijuana use

 Background: The current study examines the unique and interactive effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and days using alcohol, opioids, and marijuana on PTSD symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior up to 1 year, later in a high‐risk sample of military personnel not active in mental health treatment.

Conclusions: Results suggest marijuana, especially for military personnel experiencing elevated PTSD symptoms may negatively impact suicidal thoughts and behavior. These results are relevant to suggestions that medical marijuana could be used in treating or augmenting treatment for PTSD.

(Source: Published Depression & Anxiety https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/da.22954)


Marijuana Use is Associated with Worse Outcomes in Symptom Severity and Violent Behavior in Patients with PTSD

Conclusions: The above limitations notwithstanding, our study has suggestive implications for clinical practice and public policy. The results of our study provide no support for the hypothesis that marijuana is associated with general improvement in PTSD symptoms and the observed associations suggest that it may actually worsen PTSD symptoms or nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment. Especially in light of the adverse health effects of marijuana use,1 these data indicate that providers should be cautious or even avoidant in using this agent to treat PTSD. Given that our study only shows associations and not causation, it remains possible that more severe PTSD symptoms drive people to seek marijuana to transiently self-medicate symptoms. Prospective randomized clinical trials would be needed to establish a more definitive understanding of the impact of marijuana use on individuals with PTSD

Clinical Points:

  • Medical marijuana has been approved for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in several states, despite an absence of clinical trials evaluating efficacy and safety
  • Psychiatrists are frequently asked whether they would recommend marijuana for PTSD
  • This study shows that starting marijuana use may be associated with worse outcomes in PTSD

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6258013/)


The Impact of Cannabis Use Disorder on Suicidal and Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Iraq/Afghanistan-Era Veterans with and without Mental Health Disorders

Abstract: The objective of the present study was to assess the association between cannabis use disorder (CUD) and self-injury among veterans. As expected, after adjusting for sex, age, sexual orientation, combat exposure, traumatic life events, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol use disorder, and non-cannabis drug use disorder, CUD was significantly associated with both suicidal (OR=3.10, p=0.045) and nonsuicidal (OR=5.12, p=0.009) self-injury. CUD was the only variable significantly associated with self-injury in all three models examined. These findings are consistent with prior research among civilians and suggest that CUD may also increase veterans’ risk for self-injurious behavior. Keywords: Nonsuicidal self-injury, suicide, suicide attempts, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, veterans         

Despite the strong political push for legalization of cannabis, many questions and concerns have been raised regarding the safety of the drug, as heavy cannabis use has been associated with an array of physical and mental health problems, including pulmonary problems, cognitive impairment, lower levels of educational attainment, unemployment, and increased risk for mental health disorders, such as cannabis use disorder (CUD) and psychotic disorders (e.g., Borges et al., 2016Curran et al., 2016Gentes et al., 2016Goldman et al., 2010Hoch et al., 2015Joshi et al., 2014Sherman & McRae-Clark, 2016).

One area of research particularly important to the debate concerning cannabis legalization is the relationship between heavy cannabis use and self-injury. There has been only limited research on this association to date (e.g., Borges et al., 2016Giletta et al., 2012Moller et al., 2012), none of which has focused on veterans with mental health disorders—a population known to be at markedly increased risk for both suicidal and nonsuicidal self-injury (e.g., Bullman & Kang, 1994Kimbrel et al., 2014a2014b2016a, 2016b). The present study aimed to address this gap in the literature by conducting the first comprehensive assessment of the association between CUD and self-injury among veterans with and without mental health disorders.

Cannabis Use and Self-injury in Veterans: Taken together, the findings from the literature reviewed above suggest that cannabis use is likely to be associated with increased risk for both suicidal and nonsuicidal self-injury in civilians. Unfortunately, the association between cannabis use and self-injury has been largely overlooked among veterans to date. The lack of research on this topic is surprising, given that a recent study found that rates of CUD had increased by over 50% among veterans who received their care from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System between 2002 and 2009 (Bonn-Miller et al., 2012). Other recent studies have shown that veterans with PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders are at elevated risk for both suicidal (e.g., Kimbrel et al., 2014b e.g., Kimbrel et al., 2016b) and nonsuicidal self-injury (Kimbrel et al., 2014a2015a2016a). However, to our knowledge, no study has examined the relationship between CUD and self-injury in veterans to date, although one recent study did find that self-reported cannabis use was positively associated with self-reported suicidal ideation in a large sample of male veterans seeking treatment for PTSD (Gentes et al., 2016). This study did not, however, evaluate the relationship between cannabis use and actual self-injury (i.e., actual suicide attempts or nonsuicidal self-injury).

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5597481/)

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World Federation Against Drugs

World Federation Against Drugs (W.F.A.D) Dalgarno Institute is a member of this global initiative. For evidence based data on best practice drug policy in the global context.
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Institute for Behavior and Health

The Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. is to reduce the use of illegal drugs. We work to achieve this mission by conducting research, promoting ideas that are affordable and scalable...
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Drug Free Australia

Drug Free Australia Website. Drug Free Australia is a peak body, representing organizations and individuals who value the health and wellbeing of our nation...
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Drug Advisory Council of Australia (D.A.C.A)

Drug Advisory Council of Australia (D.A.C.A) Dalgarno Institute is an executive member of this peak body. For updates on current illicit drug issues.
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International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy

(I.T.F.S.D.P) This international peak body continues to monitor and influence illicit drug policy on the international stage. Dalgarno Institute is a member organisation.
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Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Smart Approaches to Marijuana. SAM's leaders are among the world's most prominent voices calling for science-based marijuana education and awareness.

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Drug Policy Futures believes in engaging in an open dialogue about the strengths and weaknesses of global drug policies...
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Action Alcohol

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol is a national coalition of health and community organisations from across Australia that has been formed with the goal of reducing alcohol-related harm.
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Rivermend Health

RiverMend Health is a premier provider of scientifically driven, specialty behavioral health services to those suffering from alcohol and drug dependency, dual disorders, eating disorders, obesity and chronic pain.
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Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center

SAMHSA is committed to improving prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for mental and substance use disorders.
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SAMHSA is committed to improving prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for mental and substance use disorders.