At the American Psychological Association annual meeting in New Orleans, recognized doctors who participated from a medical cannabis panel discussion, expressed that the evidence on the use of medical marijuana is limited, and recommended clinicians should be cautious when discussing with their patients about possible cannabis health treatments.
For his part, Kevin P. Hill, an addiction psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said that there is some evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for medical indications.
"For psychiatry conditions, evidence is very scant, and there are considerable potential risks," sais Hill.
While it would be great to have additional research in this area, Hill added that it’s important to be clear with patients about where the evidence stands now.
On the other hand, panelist Deepak Cyril D’Souza, MD professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and a staff psychiatrist at VA Connecticut Healthcare System, said that his research showed that THC exacerbates both positive and negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
"Relative to healthy controls, patients with schizophrenia were much more vulnerable to the changes," D'Souza added. THC impaired memory in healthy individuals, but impaired memory more in patients with schizophrenia.
In his research, D'Souza noted that the positive and negative effects may be dose-related. Participants are randomly asked at various times of the day to report symptoms of psychosis in his studies.
In addition D'Souza noted that the Veterans Administration was planning a study to evaluate CBD and THC for pain control.
US Cannabis Policies: A Doctors’ Opinion
At the annual meeting, medical cannabis panelists also discussed US marijuana policy.
Hill said that implementation of medical cannabis policies has not gone well.
“Supporters say access is not what it should be. Others say the policies aren't strict enough," said Hill.
He added that millions of people use cannabis and cannabinoids: Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have policies in place for medical cannabis.
Anxiety is one of the main conditions for which cannabis is used.
According to Dr. Hill, medical marijuana is used for PTSD, although "the level of evidence isn't there."
"The science is building, but the policy is not very well tied to the science right now," Hill said.
“If you think about the number of money states and businesses make, it's embarrassing that we don't know more.”
Panelist Kevin Sabet, Ph.D., an adjunct assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said that people say cannabis is safer than alcohol.
"Alcohol has been commercialized and is a major source of health and criminal problems. It's a multi-billion dollar industry whose business is to get people to use more," Sabet said.
In his opinion, cannabis policy should not be based on alcohol policy.
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