A State Medical Board of Ohio committee is delaying a recommendation for medical marijuana for people diagnosed with anxiety disorders. That’s according to a August 2019 article by the Associated Press. Several physicians gave testimony and said “the drug offers momentary relief from anxiety but can lead to panic attacks or worsening anxiety for some patients.”
So, no huffing, puffing or vaping weed for anxiety disorders in Ohio. The pot is empty.
According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older.” That’s mucho people using Cannabis sativa if approved for anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder as reported by the American Psychiatric Association.
Does medical marijuana help anxiety?
There is no such research (as of yet) to support the claim that marijuana helps anxiety disorders. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers marijuana a Schedule I drug (the same as heroin, LSD, ecstasy) and lacking in medical value. There you have it — no conclusive research results.
“While the popularity of marijuana has surged, research on its therapeutic properties has lagged well behind, especially when it comes to mental health and other outcomes.” That’s the professional opinion of the American Psychological Association.
Legal Medications for Anxiety Disorders
“More medications are available than ever before to effectively treat anxiety disorders. These include antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclic Antidepressants, MAOIs), tranquilizers (benzodiazepines, etc.) and in some cases, anticonvulsants,” reports Mental Health of America.
And yes, benzodiazepines are addictive. So, would a person with an Anxiety disorder rather smoke medical marijuana or take a prescribed benzo?
“People tend to use benzodiazepines because they work, plain and simple. A group of prescription sedatives, benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV in the Controlled Substances Act and are most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, namely under the brand names Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.” Source: Center for Substance Abuse Research (2013).
What about therapy and a non-addictive medication? Neither are hazardous to lung health.
When I worked as a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) in Ohio, I heard the following comment often from weed-smoking adults and teens. “Marijuana is natural. It comes from a plant, so there’s no harm in smoking it.” I usually replied, “Poison ivy is a plant found in nature. Do you want to smoke it?”
What’s my beef with smoking marijuana? Your lungs. Why would any human voluntarily put carcinogens into their lungs? Didn’t we learn anything from smoking tobacco cigarettes and lung cancer?
“Smoke is harmful to lung health. Whether from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials. Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke … Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung. Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis,” according to the American Lung Association.
“Data appraising the effectiveness of marijuana in conditions such as HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chemotherapy-associated vomiting is limited and often only anecdotal … FDA-approved forms of THC (Dronabinol) and a THC-analog (Nabilone), both available orally, already exist. Indications for these drugs are HIV/AIDS cachexia and chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting. Unlike smoked, crude marijuana, these medications have been subject to randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trials.” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Should medical marijuana be legalized for anxiety disorders in Ohio or anywhere in the USA? No.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Wheelersburg in Southern Ohio.