Study Summary: Antidepressant Effects of Medical Cannabis

Welcome to Higher Learning LV's Study Summary series. This series reviews and summarizes peer-reviewed research studies and was developed specifically for cannabis industry professionals. These study summaries provide easily digested quick reads for a variety of important issues regarding the commerce and chemistry of legal cannabis.

A 2021 study entitled "Antidepressant and Anxiolytic Effects of Medicinal Cannabis Use in an Observational Trial" that was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry explored the potential ability of medical cannabis to treat anxiety and depression.


Patients suffering depression and anxiety "are increasingly using medicinal cannabis products to treat these disorders."

The study reported that "anxiety and depressive disorders are highly prevalent" and that patients suffering these conditions "are increasingly using medicinal cannabis products to treat these disorders." The study noted that "little is known about the effects of medicinal cannabis use on symptoms of anxiety and depression."


The Study

"The aim of the present observational study was to assess general health in medicinal cannabis users and non-using controls with anxiety and/or depression," reported the scientists.

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The study involved 538 participants (comprised of 368 "cannabis users" and 170 non-cannabis consuming control subjects) who completed an online survey about their symptoms related to anxiety and depression and cannabis use. The participants also reported on their "sleep, quality of life, and...chronic pain."


The Results

One of the weaknesses of this study was the fact that it relied upon self-reporting from patients, a mechanism that is less reliable and typically results in skewed data. Despite this, the study found that "medicinal cannabis use was associated with lower self-reported depression" and that cannabis users said they experienced "superior sleep, quality of life, and less pain on average."


The scientists concluded that "medicinal cannabis use may reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in clinically anxious and depressed populations."

The research revealed that cannabis use among the participants "significantly decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms, an effect that was not observed in control [subjects] that never initiated cannabis use."

The scientists concluded that "medicinal cannabis use may reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in clinically anxious and depressed populations," but that "future placebo-controlled studies are necessary to replicate these findings and to determine the route of administration, dose, and product formulation characteristics to optimize clinical outcomes."


Visit the original study.


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