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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Can Marijuana Be Used for Treatment of Mental Illness?

The DEA issued a policy change today with regards to Marijuana. The drug will be available for research purposes. However, it remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

The FDA has not approved Marijuana for medical use. Some states have legalized Marijuana (Colorado, Oregon, Washington), 16 states have decriminalized it (Minnesota, New York, California, and many others), and 24 states have approved "medical Marijuana (Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan).  Physicians in Illinois may prescribe Marijuana as a treatment for many conditions, however, they may be violating federal law by doing so, and prescribing it may not be covered by their malpractice insurance, since they would be prescribing a drug that is not approved for any medical problem.

None of the medical societies and associations in the United States have endorsed Medical marijuana. There are very few medical issues that Marijuana has been shown to be useful, and none for which there are not already existing medications that actually work. It's best to ignore stories in the news about Marijuana working for a specific person; these stories are not written by researchers who study Marijuana, but by journalists who may have their own biases and lack the skills to be critical of what's going on with a particular patient.

Parents of teens should be advised that, although Marijuana has grown substantially in popularity, it is actually a much more dangerous drug today than it was thirty or more years ago; for example, a "joint," 

in 1980 typically contained about 2 mg of THC, 
whereas a joint today will contain between 30 mg and 300 mg

The dramatic increase in the potency of Marijuana has changed so that users, especially teens, are more susceptible to addiction. Teens who use Marijuana are more likely to get into car accidents, and these accidents are more likely to be fatal. Also, many teens may be predisposed to psychosis and severe anxiety from using Marijuana, even infrequently. Our practice has met six teens who developed various forms of Schizophrenia after using Marijuana; in one case, the teen had used synthetic Marijuana, which is potentially more dangerous that Cannabis.

Marijuana has absolutely no use in the treatment of mental illness. Since the side effects of Marijuana can be much worse than any help it may bring, it is not recommended. For more information about Marijuana, you can read this post:, and this:

Mental Health Disclaimer: The information included in this post and blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional mental health treatment or medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her mental health provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a mental health or medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a therapist-patient relationship.

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