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The Medical Minute: Cannabis Curbs Fear & Sadness, But Questions Remain

Dr. Dominic Corva once stated that cannabis legality is the "politics of knowledge." Until recently, the availability of trustworthy information regarding cannabis science has been limited. Fortunately, with decriminalization comes the advent of cannabis-related research, and more importantly, funding to back it.

Because not everyone has a doctorate in neurology and/or the time to decipher dense, technical documents, the Leafly Content Team will provide regular roundups to keep you up to date on poignant medical discussion surrounding the cannabis industry, with a focus on journal articles and academic publications.

This week, our "Medical Minute" roundup covers cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression, a potential therapeutic testing capability, and health and societal concerns associated with cannabis legalization.

1. Be Bold, Be Brave: Cannabis Calms Fears

Like cannabis, the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) was identified to decrease fear and anxiety by increasing endocannabinoid levels. Both mice and human studies determined the FAAH gene to directly influence the subject’s ability to get over bad experiences. This finding supports cannabis’s therapeutic value for cases of mild anxiety to severe PTSD.

2. Canada Has Cannabis Worries

The Canadians continue to discuss cannabis’s place within society, forecasting development of ‘marijuana doctors’ and drawing parallels to tobacco.

  • Saskatchewan worries about the evolution of ‘marijuana doctors’, i.e., physicians known for prescribing cannabis to those without evidence of a qualifying medicinal need. Without tight federal reigns, those concerned call for any regulatory structure, which may end up necessitating documentation of all cannabis prescriptions.
  • Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health calls marijuana safe with no physical addiction, but warns against psychological addiction, potential onset of schizophrenia with adolescent use, and the same lung-related ailments associated with tobacco use.

3. New Model May Allow Us to Test Cannabis’s Therapeutic Value

Speaking of schizophrenia (one of the top-ten debilitating diseases within developing countries), a model system was developed that will allow for testing of potential neurological therapies, like cannabis. The model allows for the assessment of a patient’s sensory integration, a primary source of dysfunction for schizophrenics and a factor in other neurological diseases.

4. Antidepressant Value of Cannabis Supported by Neurological Discovery

A new drug target, the GABA neuron, has been identified. This neural activity has been linked to inhibition of serotonin, or happiness, which helps to explain the ineffectiveness of current antidepressants. The discovery could substantiate cannabis’s antidepressive value should they find cannabis interacts with GABA neural activity.

5. Chronic Cannabis Use with Adolescent Onset Decreases IQ

Like alcohol, nicotine, and cocaine, adolescent cannabis use is deemed neurologically harmful and permanently lowers IQ. Adult cannabis usage did not show similar mental decline. The optimal age and dosage for safe consistent cannabis use is unkown, but with these suggestive findings, should not precede adulthood.

photo credits: Shandi-leealbertogp123Taylor Dawn FortuneCuppojoePatrick Hoesly via photopin cc