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Those hoping for a state to approve the use of marijuana to treat depression and insomnia will have to wait longer. After considering the idea, a state medical board committee in Ohio has decided not to recommend pot use for either condition.
They did, however, decide to recommend marijuana use to treat anxiety and autism. None of this is cast in stone. The committee’s recommendations must first get approved by the medical board in June, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Part of the reason for the rejection of marijuana treatment for depression is because there has been so little research done in the United States. Committee members felt not enough “high-quality research” had been done, according to the Enquirer.
To make its decision, the committee had to bring in doctors and other medical professionals to testify, including some who were interviewed by phone during the hearing.
How does marijuana treat anxiety?
If the recommendation by the committee is approved, Ohio will become only the third state to allow use of marijuana for anxiety, joining New Jersey and West Virginia.
As anyone who has ever used marijuana knows, anxiety can actually be a side effect of pot. So how can it be used to treat anxiety?
The Ohio committee heard from experts on the issue, according to reports on the meeting by the Enquirer and Columbus Dispatch. A Cleveland-area psychiatrist, Dr. Solomon Zaraa, told the panel that anxiety patients would be better off using CBD products to treat anxiety, rather than products containing higher levels of THC, the chemical ingredient in cannabis that causes the high feeling.
Dr. Mark Woyshville, another Cleveland-area psychiatrist, told the panel that using marijuana could give anxiety patients an alternative to benzodiazepines, which he said can come with side effects and painful withdrawal symptoms. In a paper submitted to the committee, Woyshville wrote that “the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is unlike the development of any modern chemotherapeutic agent for any disease.”
Studies on the use of cannabis with anxiety have shown that pot may be able to reduce anxiety. That includes a 2014 study from researchers at Vanderbilt University that found cannabis reduced stress-induced anxiety in mice.
Marijuana, Depression and Insomnia
Other studies have found that cannabis shows promise in the treatment of depression. These include two studies from Brazil, where researchers noted that pot could become an alternative to prescription drugs, which can have side effects that include nausea, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and drowsiness, insomnia, constipation and irritability.
However, the Ohio committee decided that not enough research has been done on the potential of cannabis as a treatment for depression.
On the issue of insomnia, experts consulted by the committee concluded that marijuana offers no better treatment than what people already have access to take. While pot might help patients sleep for a few nights, it does not lead to better sleeping patterns, experts advising the panel said.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Ohio 2016. Sales began in January 2019.
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