The latest study said that under the current system for providing medical marijuana cards, people only need written approval from a licensed physician. But often this doctor is “not a patient’s primary caregiver but a ‘cannabis doctor’ who may authorize patients only a quick check-up, no recommendations for alternative therapies, and no follow-up,” according to a statement released with the study.
“In reality, the medical marijuana industry operates outside the regulatory standards that apply to most areas of medicine,” the statement said.
No changes in symptoms of depression, anxiety or pain
“The waiting list group was our comparison group, like the placebo group, but we couldn’t make the placebo cannabis,” said lead author Judy Gilman, associate professor at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine.
“The waiting list group continued their usual treatment, whether it was through counseling, medication, etc.,” she said in an email.
All participants were able to choose their choice and dose of cannabis products from the dispensary as well as the frequency of use. They can also continue their usual medical or psychiatric care.
The study found that people who got the cards right away were more likely to have a cannabis use disorder. 10% developed the disorder by week 12, and that number rose to 20% if they used marijuana for anxiety or depression.
According to the study, those who got the cards right away noticed “no significant changes in the intensity of pain, anxiety, or depressive symptoms,” but reported improved insomnia and greater well-being. The study said the benefits of sleep and well-being need further follow-up.
Can you use medical marijuana? “It may pose a significant risk or may be contraindicated for people with emotional disorders. This finding is important to replicate because depression has been reported as the third most common reason people request a medical marijuana card,” the study said.
“Our study underscores the need to make better decisions about whether to initiate cannabis use for specific medical complaints, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, which are associated with an increased risk of cannabis use disorder,” Gilman said in a statement.
“There needs to be better guidance for patients about a system that currently allows them to choose their own products, set their own doses, and often not receive professional follow-up care,” Gilman added.