Medical Marijuna Use and Mental Health

The potential medicinal properties of marijuana and its components have been the subject of research and debate for decades. THC has proven medical benefits in particular formulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved THC-based medications, dronabinol (Marinol®) and nabilone (Cesamet®), prescribed in pill form for the treatment of nausea in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy and to stimulate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome due to AIDS.

However, when it comes to mental health and conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other behavior-based illnesses, the evidence is much less clear. Because the benefits of THC for mental health are unclear, we do not recommend psychotropic drug use with THC. Use of this substance can greatly interfere with medications your provider may prescribe for you. This is not only be counterproductive for you, but it can also be harmful to your health.

 

Long Term Effects

Little is known about the long-term impact of THC use by people with health- and/or age-related vulnerabilities—such as older adults or people with cancer, AIDS, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, or other neurodegenerative diseases. Further research will be needed to determine whether people whose health has been compromised by disease or its treatment (e.g., chemotherapy) are at greater risk for adverse health outcomes from marijuana use.

 

Side Effects

Possible side effects of medical marijuana may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired concentration and memory
  • Slower reaction times
  • Negative drug-to-drug interactions
  • Impaired short-term memory
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Increased appetite
  • Potential for addiction
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Hallucinations or mental illness
  • Withdrawal symptoms
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