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Medical marijuana: why you should think twice before using that card


There have been claims going around for years that cannabis may effectively treat anxiety, depression, and many other health conditions. Whether that's factual or not, there appears to be negative impacts, too. Medical marijuana can trigger cannabis use disorder. That's because people who use marijuana, whether medically or otherwise, have a 10% risk of becoming addicted to the substance.

Medical Marijuana May Lead to Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis use disorder is when a patient becomes tolerant to the drug and starts craving more of it despite experiencing the negative physical and mental impacts of the substance.

People who start using marijuana during youth or use it more frequently are more at risk of developing cannabis use disorder. In fact, people who use cannabis before age 18 have 4-7 times higher chances of addiction.

Individuals in states with  medical marijuana laws are also at risk, with the rate of cannabis use diorder rising with increasing medical use of the substance.

So, even though there may be benefits of using marijuana medically, is it really worth it, giving these statistics?

Moreover, patients for which medical marijuana will likely be prescribed are those more at risk of the addiction. Talk about people with depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions.

In one recent study, the participants didn't report experiencing any improvements when they used medical marijuana for pain, anxiety, or depression. Although they did report better quality sleep.

Furthermore, the study found that cannabis products do not effectively treat pain, anxiety, or depression but double the risks of addiction to marijuana (CUD). And sadly, most people under legal medical marijuana prescription choose their own products and dose, which often leads to abuse.

Without a doubt, medical professionals would need to stringently follow up with patients on marijuana prescriptions to ensure they do not cause more harm than good.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital and published in JAMA Network Open.


"People who use cannabis before age 18 have 4-7 times higher chances of addiction."

Why These Findings Matter

Medical marijuana use has gone widespread in the United States. As of April 2023, 38 states, three territories plus DC allow the medical use of cannabis products. Outlets dispense cannabis products to patients who come bearing medical marijuana cards.

But this mostly benefits those who are on the commercial side of things, not the patients, as studies have shown us. There seems to be almost zero scientific evidence on the health benefits of medical marijuana for pain, anxiety, and depression, but solid facts about the negative effects of marijuana on mental health.

So, whether or not the supposed health benefits are factual or not, and despite your state allowing medical marijuana, you want to be cautious when using that card. And most especially when you're still pretty young.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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