When looking for a silver lining in the American electorate’s ever changing stance on marijuana, two things often come to mind. 1) Medical marijuana and legalized recreational use will keep countless Americans out of jail or prison. 2) The loosening of the legislative grip on marijuana allows for some long awaited (previously impossible) research to be conducted. The findings of which will hopefully lead to more informed decisions regarding the use of cannabis.
Marijuana, like alcohol, is often used as a stress reliever at the end of a long day of work. While the stereotypical “pot” smokers are teenagers and young adults with Bob Marley shirts and healthy appetites, your average pot smoker is often the farthest thing from that picture. In fact, with the lightening of policies related to marijuana, we can now see a more accurate picture of cannabis users, free from what is portrayed in Hollywood. And what is being seen is college freshmen to businessmen partaking in marijuana use.
More American adults than ever can now easily access marijuana, so it is vital that they know the risks. When people think about the risks associated with cannabis use, cognitive and memory problems often come to mind. But, past research has found connections between heavy cannabis use and mental illness, especially among teenagers and young adults. Users beware!
There are also many pot smokers who use marijuana to self-medicate anxiety and depression. However, it has long been uncertain how effective marijuana is for treating mental illness, and it is likely that the drug may actually worsen one’s symptoms. Researchers at Colorado State University conducted a questionnaire-based analysis of 178 college-aged, legal users of cannabis to shed some light on how the drug affects emotional processing, KDVR reports. The findings were published in PeerJ.
The researchers found that people who use cannabis to treat their depressive symptoms, had less anxiety but were more depressed, according to the article. Those who used the drug to lessen anxiety symptoms had fewer symptoms of depression, but were more anxious.
The findings are important, and hopefully will influence some people’s choice to use the drug for alleviating symptoms of depression or anxiety.