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Cannabis Helps! : Anxiety, Depression & Stress

It has been reported that over 58% of medical cannabis patients reporting use to manage anxiety and over 50% reporting use for depression. Cannabis has been undergoing research for various reasons seeking the pros and cons of its effects when it comes to health.  A study conducted by scientists at Washington State University focused patients suffering from anxiety, depression and stress and the effects they feel while smoking cannabis. The study used data from the app Strainprint, which allows medical marijuana users to rate their symptoms, both mental and physical, before and after they smoke. The WSU study has collected unique data that is pulled from people naturally using their medicine rather than being confined in experimental quarters.

"We looked at actual inhaled cannabis by medical marijuana patients who were using it in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to a laboratory," state Carrie Cuttler, clinical assistant professor or psychology at WSU.  "Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress are very rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills..."  Strainprint has produced about 12,000 anonymous entries of cannabis use and effects.  The app requires the stain name and symptom severity be entered beforehand and later, they enter how many times they took a hit and rated their symptoms again.

The results suggest that most users experienced positive effects with others reporting no change in symptoms.

For those experiencing depression, the symptom ratings decreased 89.3%, increased in 3.2% and had no change in 7.5%.  It was reported that strains higher in CBD (>9.5%) and lower in THC (<5.5%) produced the largest reduction in symptoms.

Those with anxiety had symptom ratings reduced in 93.5%, increased in 2.1% and had no change in 4.4%. The percentage of CBD or THC did not seem to matter when it came to those suffering from anxiety.

Individuals experiencing stress had symptom ratings reduced in 93.3% of the smoking sessions. Symptoms increased in 2.7% and had no change in 4%. Significant symptom reduction was found when patients smoked strains high in both CBD (>11%) and THC (>26.5%).

In further research, Strainprint provided that users found two puffs to be sufficient to reduce ratings of depression and anxiety, while 10 or more puffs produced the greatest perceived reductions in stress.

While the information collected by WSU scientists is unique, it is also questionable by some because of the reliance on medical marijuana patients to self-report their symptoms and effects. Therefore, a a generous margin of error is considered with these results. There is also no control group to compare against. “As such," the study states, "it is possible – and likely – that at least some of the detected effects are driven by expectations individuals have about the efficacy of cannabis for treating states of negative affect.”

However, the study continues by stating that, “the majority of the data on THC and CBD levels were obtained from licensed producers who are held to strict testing standards by Health Canada,” which is a plus for the accuracy of the research.