Every once in a while I feel obligated as a physician to sound the warning about the dangers of marijuana when used as medicine and for recreational purposes. Please understand that I am all for real research about whatever possible real medical uses there could be for the active ingredients in pot. What I oppose is the testimonial folk medicine that is being used in this country to push through the legalization of “medical” marijuana and eventually recreational pot as well.
This week some real research was reported about one of the “qualifying conditions” for using medical marijuana that many states have approved and the results are not good. It has been assumed that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD could be helped by the “calming” effect of smoking marijuana. The research showed that instead of helping the symptoms of PTSD, the drug may make them worse and increase violent behavior.[i]
The study included 2276 patients in a Veterans Administration program for treating PTSD. Patients who never used responded with a noticeably lower symptom rate than those who continued the use or started it while in the program. Patients who stopped after they left the program benefitted from quitting marijuana with a lower symptom rate as well.
The most concerning aspect of the research was that those who started smoking pot after they left the program had the most problems with violent behavior. While all of the study groups saw improvement in violence scores, those who started using marijuana after they completed the treatment program improved the least. "This was a surprise because generally, marijuana is not thought to be associated with violence. There's been a little bit of literature investigating this, but this was interesting," said Dr Samuel T. Wilkinson from the Yale University School of Medicine.
It would appear that Marijuana does not help PTSD. Beyond that marijuana is an addictive drug that can result in patients having psychotic episodes. In addition, the most common way that it is used is by smoking. The idea that smoking pot can be safe is just as ridiculous as the idea that smoking tobacco is safe and harmless.
While there may be some limited use for the active ingredients in marijuana, PTSD does not appear to be one of them. Until real research defines what use marijuana may have, the risks outweigh the benefits for most all patients.
[i] Medical Marijuana May Worsen PTSD Symptoms, Increase Violence
Deborah Brauser December 15, 2014 Medscape.com. I will post the link to the article on Twitter and Facebook.
All quotes and information in this blog come from this article.