A major study has found little evidence that cannabis helps with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, despite growing claims that the drug is a useful treatment.
Wayne Hall at the University of Queensland, Australia, and his colleagues evaluated all the published and unpublished research between 1980 and 2018 on the use of cannabinoids to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis. They also included studies on the use of cannabinoids to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome.
Of the 83 studies, which included a total of 3000 participants, only 40 were randomised controlled trials, the gold standard for medical evidence.
They found little evidence that medicinal cannabinoids helped to treat either the overall disorders or their individual symptoms. In one study of 24 people, THC actually made symptoms of psychosis worse.
“The popular media has been remarkably uncritical of the claims made for medical cannabis by the cannabis companies producing and marketing it,” says Hall. But the findings suggest that without high-quality evidence, treating mental disorders with cannabis isn’t justifiable.
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