For those suffering depression or anxiety, using cannabis for relief may not be the long-term answer.
That’s according to new research from a team at Colorado State University seeking scientific clarity on how cannabis — particularly chronic, heavy use — affects neurological activity, including the processing of emotions.
Researchers have published a study in PeerJ describing their findings from an in-depth, questionnaire-based analysis of 178 college-aged, legal users of cannabis.
Recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado in 2014. Since then, seven other states have enacted legalization for recreational use, while many others allow medical use.
Through the study, which was based solely upon self-reported use of the drug, the researchers sought to draw correlations between depressive or anxious symptoms and cannabis consumption.
They found that those respondents categorized with subclinical depression, who reported using the drug to treat their depressive symptoms, scored lower on their anxiety symptoms than on their depressive symptoms.
So, they were actually more depressed than they were anxious. The same was true for self-reported anxiety sufferers: they were found to be more anxious than they were depressed.
In other words, “if they were using cannabis for self-medication, it wasn’t doing what they thought it was doing,” explained co-author Jacob Braunwalder.
“There is a common perception that cannabis relieves anxiety.” Yet research has yet to support this claim fully,” he said.
Due to the federal government’s stringent regulations around researching cannabis, which is a schedule I drug, the general public’s perception of how it affects the brain is often based in “mythos,” Braunwalder said.
There are currently no CSU research labs that administer cannabis to study participants, as administration of the drug for research would require special licensing and security.
Moving forward, the researchers want to refine their results and concentrate on respondents’ level and length of exposure to legally available high-THC products like concentrates and hash oils, around which there has been little scientific inquiry.
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News source: Colorado State University. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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