APR 01, 2022 10:30 AM PDT

Effects of Having a Medical Cannabis Card on Symptom Management

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A recent study published in Psychiatry found differences in cannabis use habits and symptom management among the two main study participant groups. One group was given immediate access to a medical cannabis card, and the other group had to wait twelve weeks. 186 participants were randomly assigned to either the immediate card acquisition group or the delayed card acquisition group. Those with immediate medical cannabis card ownership were at 20% greater risk of cannabis use disorder (CUD) than participants who had to wait to receive their cards. Overall, the study participants reported little or no reduction of depression, pain, or anxiety, but most experienced improved sleeping quality.  

The Harvard study highlighted the importance of patient-doctor communication about dosing and monitoring the side effects of medical cannabis use. According to lead author Dr. Jodi Gilman, the study “...underscores the need for better decision-making about whether to begin to use cannabis for specific medical complaints, particularly mood and anxiety disorders, which are associated with an increased risk of cannabis use disorder.” Currently patients decide on products and dosing without much thorough follow-up from a physician. Those patients dealing with depression and anxiety, as well as those with other mental health challenges, need closer supervision regarding cannabis use in order to achieve better health outcomes than those with other diagnoses such as glaucoma or cancer. 

The study highlighted that cannabis may be an effective sleep aid for those with insomnia. Most participants reported cannabis use offered some relief from insomnia, so research studies will examine the sedating effects and the factors determining why those who use cannabis to manage mood disorders are more likely to become dependent than those patients who use cannabis as a remedy for insomnia.   




Harvard Gazette, Psychiatry 


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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