Much has been written about marijuana’s effects on the brain, given cannabis’ strong psychoactive effects on the brain. There have been reports of cannabis helping with pain relief and even post traumatic stress disorder. However, the link between medical marijuana and mood enhancement, or derangement for that matter, has yet to be understood.
Critics of marijuana are quick to point to studies suggesting that marijuana addiction can lead to depression and suicidal feelings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored a study suggesting that young people under the age of 17 who smoke marijuana are 3.5 times more likely to suffer extreme depression and suicidal feelings than people who started smoking later in life. However, one of the researchers, Dr. Michael Lynskey at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, also stated that “Marijuana abuse and dependence do not of themselves cause depression or suicidal behavior.”
Some doctors have went so far as to say that selective use of cannabis can actually help in treating suicidal feelings and depression. One study comes from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany, who stated that medical marijuana legalization actually decreased suicide rates by almost five percent. Meanwhile, Thomas F. Denson, PhD and Professor of Psychology at the California State University at Long Beach suggested that those who “consume marijuana occasionally…have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana.”
The truth is that cannabis is a complicated element, and one that must be studied to be fully understood. There are different strands that can affect people in very different ways, and searching for the right strain to produce a desired effect is a complex process—some even say a personal process. These molecules of cannabis interact with the human nervous system, and so have the capacity to produce beneficial effects or ill-effects, if the dosage is reckless and not controlled. Remember that there are hundreds of varieties or strains of marijuana.
Discovering which strains are best for depression, and which should be avoided for possible negative effects, will require more human clinical trials. Thankfully, since cannabis is gaining more state support, these medical trials may be coming in the near future.