Cannabis, widely known as marijuana, is a psychoactive drug that is commonly abused worldwide. Some people, who were active marijuana users, reported that the drug helps overcome stress and relieve nervousness and anxiety (Filbey et al., 2017). For this reason, more than 40 of the US states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes by now (DISA Global Solutions, 2020). Anxiety is an emotional condition accompanied by tension, wariness arousal, and insomnia. Recent researches illustrate that marijuana enriched in CBD has excellent potential to treat anxiety if adequate dose and administration methods are maintained.
Anxiety degree measurement can range, starting from brain scanning methods to surveillance of people before and after medication. For instance, Gruber et al. (2018) and Camchong et al. (2017) used MRI scanning, Management Standards Indicator Tool (MSIT) as well as follow-up surveys of patients to evaluate the effect of marijuana on the brain and mental state of users. MSIT is an indicator of the stress condition that measures the person’s psychometric parameters (Camchong et al., 2017). It was performed concurrently with the MRI screening. The surveys included internationally accepted mental state tests that qualify people’s mood, anxiety level, and sleep hours. Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) is another method used by Gruber et al. (2018) to identify patients’ anxiety. It is a report survey scaled from 0 to 36 and above. This test’s high score indicates high levels of stress (Gruber et al., 2018). Furthermore, the researchers compared the brain activity images of patients who were using the drug with healthy people’s screen results. As a result, these techniques were sufficient to evaluate the person’s condition with anxiety before and after treatment with cannabis.
The functional properties of the drug can be understood by revealing its main components. Hundreds of chemicals constitute the plant, and cannabinoids are the key elements to affect the nervous system (Bhattacharyya et al., 2015; Filbey et al., 2017). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid responsible for lowering blood pressure and alleviating blood flow to brain tissues. (Bhattacharyya et al., 2015). Arterial tissues are abundant on specific receptors called CB1 that bind to cannabinoids. Hence, there is a change in the brain’s blood-oxygen level, which stimulates high neurophysiological activity after exposure to the drug (Filbey et al., 2017). THC, however, is found to be the primary element that intoxicates the human organism. Moreover, it is effective against anxiety only for a short period of time, while another component, cannabidiol (CBD), seems to have a long-term effect (Bhattacharyya et al., 2015; Filbey et al., 2017). Thus, cannabis with a high concentration of CBD is preferable for medical purposes rather than the one with THC as the main constituent.
Studies on human patients are being conducted to assess the effectiveness and future potential of the treatment. Reinarman et al. (2011) and Sexton et al. (2016) surveyed patients with different types of psychiatric conditions who used marijuana as a treatment in California and Washington state hospitals, respectively. Both studies contained approximately 1,5 thousand patients who were under “special” medication. They took less than 7 grams of marijuana daily, mostly by smoking (Renairman et al., 2011). The most common reasons to use the drug were to adjust relaxation and relieve anxiety and pain (Renairman et al., 2011; Sexton et al., 2016). According to the surveys, more than half of the patients responded that anxiety did not bother them after three months of exposure to cannabis.
Furthermore, the MRI scans of the patients changed and became similar to the images of healthy people. The majority used samples enriched in CBD since it was perceived as an essential component for improving the condition. However, papers suggest a larger number of subjects needed to be examined to come to more assertive conclusions. There are a lot of people who self-prescribe cannabis and do not report their state. Moreover, marijuana effectivity varies depending on the patient’s initial physical condition and the age/sex groups he belongs to (Renairman et al., 2011; Sexton et al., 2016). Sexton et al. (2016) suggest that flower inhalation or its vaporization are safe and effective ways of administration. In this case, the lungs’ damage is avoided, and a higher concentration of the constituents is available (Sexton et al., 2016). Therefore, physicians can use marijuana as a potential treatment in the further future if they ensure a safe method of administration and prescribe the samples with a high dose of CBD.
To sum up, nowadays, marijuana is widely used not only as a narcotic substance but also as a medicine that opposes anxiety symptoms. There is a high resonance regarding its safety and effectiveness as a drug against psychiatric conditions. Nevertheless, the studies show promising results after patients’ long-term exposure to it. This is especially the case for cannabis enriched in CBD, which is less toxic than the related THC component. Moreover, patients should inhale cannabis’s flower or its vapor instead of smoking it to ensure the treatment’s safe delivery.
Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Martin-Santos, R., Crippa, J., Kambeitz, J., Malhi, S.,… Mcguire, P. (2015). Impairment of inhibitory control processing related to acute psychotomimetic effects of cannabis. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(1), 26-37. Web.
Camchong, J., Lim, K. O., & Kumra, S. (2017). Adverse effects of cannabis on adolescent brain development: a longitudinal study. Cerebral Cortex. 27(3), 1922–1930. Web.
DISA Global Solutions. (2020). Map of marijuana legality by state. Web.
Filbey, F. M., Aslan, S., Lu, H., & Peng, S. (2017). Residual effects of THC via novel measures of brain perfusion and metabolism in a large group of chronic cannabis users. Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(4), 700-707. Web.
Gruber, S. A., Sagar, K. A., Dahlgren, M. K., Gonenc, A., Smith, R. T., Lambros, A. M.,… Lukas, S. E. (2018). The grass might be greener: medical marijuana patients exhibit altered brain activity and improved executive function after 3 months of treatment. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8, 1-13. Web.
Reinarman, C., Nunberg, H., Lanthier, F., & Heddleston, T. (2011). Who are medical marijuana patients? population characteristics from nine California assessment clinics. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43(2), 128-135. Web.
Sexton, M., Cuttler, C., Finnell, J. S., & Mischley, L. K. (2016). A cross-sectional survey of medical cannabis users: patterns of use and perceived efficacy. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 131-138. Web.