MAY 17, 2023 6:00 AM PDT

Anxiety and Medical Cannabis: Critical Findings from Drexel University Review

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A recent review of the literature on managing anxiety with medical cannabis by Drexel University researchers highlighted some key themes about medical cannabis use to manage anxiety symptoms. The review provides critical insights into effective therapies for individuals with anxiety disorders, which includes 31% of the U.S. population. 

Anxiety disorders have been one of the top reasons for medical cannabis use since 2019 approval as a qualifying condition for the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana (PAMMJ) Program. In 2021, approximately 40% of PMMJ certifications over 151,000 patients) identified anxiety disorders as the sole qualifying condition. This qualifying condition category outnumbered those patients listing chronic pain and cancer as their qualifying condition.

The review highlighted how anxiety disorders are often underdiagnosed and undertreated, with only 46% receiving treatment for this condition. The review found that many people turn to medical cannabis to avoid costs and other barriers to anxiety disorder treatment.

Research attention is growing as the CBD market expands and use increases, and in particular, cannabis research has revealed some key findings regarding anxiety and cannabinoid profiles. Many studies indicated that anxiety is managed more effectively with lower doses of THC,  and while anxiety intensity increased at higher doses, CBD decreased anxiety at all doses. The review showed that one reason many patients choose medical cannabis over pharmaceutical treatments and their often harsh side effects. 

More observational and clinical trials are needed, but the review identified some key areas that need research attention. Few studies have examined the effectiveness of cannabis products with different ratios of THC and CBD (for example, 1:1 THC: CBD). In addition, more studies need to analyze the specific strains, cannabinoid profiles, and terpene profiles to determine dosing effects. The report emphasized that cannabis therapy should not replace talk therapy since this component is critical in reducing symptoms.   

Sources: Drexel University



About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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