Researchers from the University of New South Wales have concluded that there is scarce evidence to suggest that medical marijuana can improve various psychiatric disorders—from depression and anxiety to ADHD. Although there is some relatively nominal evidence that cannabis-related product can help improve anxiety for patients with other medical conditions, the Australian researchers conclude the lack of any solid evidence preludes use of cannabinoids for treating mental disorders within a regulatory framework. More high-quality clinical research examining the effect of cannabinoids on treating various mental disorders is required.

Published in the Lancet Psychiatry, the study was recently covered by San Francisco-based ABC 7 news

The Study

The Australia-based team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Clinical Trials, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for studies published between Jan 1, 1980 and April 30, 2018. The team also probed, the EU Clinical Register and the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Registry for unpublished or ongoing studies.


The team uncovered little evidence that medical marijuana helps with mental health disorders from depression to anxiety, ADHD and PTSD. After a deep analysis of 83 past research studies, only a few of them showed that medical marijuana may have a slight impact on anxiety—mostly via relief of other symptoms such as pain. Moreover, if researchers analysis is truly correct—twice as many bad reactions occur among users than good reactions when compared to placebo.

The researchers noted, “There is scare evidence to suggest that cannabinoids improve depressive disorders and symptoms, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis. There is very low quality evidence that pharmaceutical THC (with or without CBD) leads to a small improvement in symptoms of anxiety among individuals with other medical conditions. There remains insufficient evidence to provide guidance on the use of cannabinoids for treating mental disorders within a regulatory framework. Further high-quality studies directly examining the effect of cannabinoids on treating mental disorders are needed.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Professor Louisa Degenhardt, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Call to Action: Clearly more research needs to be done. Our position: Medical Marijuana isn’t a major panacea. There are known use cases where it may help but considerable research needs to be done to back any claims—which are many out there presently.

Source: The Lancet

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