As of this date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Each state has their own list of conditions that are approved for treatment by medical marijuana, but these lists vary widely from one state to the next. Many of these states are now seeing a push to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the list of approved conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, but this is causing growing concern among physicians and regulators.
While few studies exist and no scientific proof has been found that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for any condition, studies have found that medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD could actually make the condition worse. A 2014 study conducted by physicians and researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine showed that the use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans “was significantly associated with worse outcomes in PTSD symptom severity, violent behavior, and measures of alcohol and drug use.” The study concluded that “marijuana may actually worsen PTSD symptoms and nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment.”
In June, the White House announced that they would be lifting a regulation limiting the ability to conduct scientific research on the development, use, and affects of medical marijuana. Currently, there are no strict regulations on the production of medical marijuana, causing a huge disparity between the quality of each batch. Additionally, marijuana contains more than 400 compounds, the effects of which have not been fully studied. Hopefully this policy change will allow more concrete evidence to surface that will lead to the safer and more regulated production and use of medical marijuana for conditions that truly do benefit from its use as a treatment.
While medical marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for PTSD, proven treatments do exist. The VA’s National Center for PTSD, www.ptsd.va.gov, provides many valuable resources for the treatment of PTSD. Help is available.