People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who use marijuana experience fewer symptoms and recover more quickly compared to people who don’t use cannabis, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs researcher said in a new podcast posted by the agency.
Hal Wortzel, a VA forensic neuropsychiatrist, talked about the findings of an observational study he conducted during the recent interview. He also discussed how the ongoing federal prohibition on marijuana has impeded essential research.
To learn how cannabis impacts PTSD, Wortzel’s team tracked two groups over the course of several years: 75 people with the condition who said they use marijuana and 75 people with PTSD who don’t consume cannabis. While there are limits to observational—rather than experimental—studies, he said the results provide further evidence that marijuana seems to have therapeutic benefits for certain populations.
An Observational Study of Cannabis and PTSD https://t.co/YcNZFo2EP7
— RockyMountain MIRECC (@RMIRECC) December 5, 2021
Specifically, people who said they use marijuana reported fewer “hyper arousal” symptoms—things like anxiously checking over one’s shoulder or overreacting to loud sounds.
“Among persons using marijuana for PTSD, relative to the group that was not using marijuana, we saw those folks using marijuana products get a little bit better more quickly, and they were about two and a half times more likely over the course of the study year to no longer meet criteria for PTSD than those folks who were not using marijuana products,” Wortzel said.
“That was a finding that appears to be predominantly driven by what we call the hyper arousal symptoms of PTSD,” he said. “Those sorts of symptoms appear to be most responsive to marijuana, at least in this investigation.”
Wortzel also told the podcast—which is produced by VA’s Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center—that there should be a greater investment in controlled, experimental studies on marijuana’s health impacts, but federal prohibition has impeded research.
“In the world of cannabis, because marijuana and marijuana products are still technically federally illegal, to do those kinds of experimental studies, you have to use basically the marijuana product that’s been developed by the United States government for that purpose, which, of course, is not the the product that the vast majority of Americans are utilizing or purchasing in dispensaries like here in Colorado,” he said.
Many researchers—including the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—have complained about the fact that scientists are currently dependent on cannabis …….