By Amanda Cubine
Marijuana is becoming more widely accepted every year. Most states allow medical marijuana cards to be issued to citizens with a variety of ailments. Depression and anxiety are among the top mental illnesses affecting the population, but they have yet to make the cut.
It's 2019 and the stigma surrounding mental illness is finally lifting, so why isn't the medical marijuana industry feeling the change? The only mental illness that is widely accepted as a qualifier for medical marijuana is PTSD. While it's heartening to see new ways becoming available to treat mental and physical ailments, depression and anxiety will not qualify you for a medical marijuana card in the vast majority of states - despite being among the top 5 most common mental illnesses in the US. According to the ADAA, 18.1% of Americans suffer from anxiety, and 6.7% have experienced a major depressive episode in the last year. Taking into account both temporary and chronic diagnoses, depression is the leading cause of disability among people between the ages of 15 and 44 in the US.
As of 2019, the only state that has specifically listed anxiety as a qualifying medical condition to receive a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana is New Jersey. None have listed depression. States that allow physicians to use their discretion while recommending medical are California, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Considering the vast presence of these illnesses in the US, the number of states allowing people suffering from these conditions to seek treatment with THC/CBD are staggeringly low. Turning to a dab rig to help cope with mental illness would be safer and easier on patients with the green-light from a doctor. Medical cards can allow people to pay lower prices on herb and concentrates, access higher-potency items, and even allow a minor to access these benefits. While a minor with a bong might not seem like the best solution for treating depression or anxiety, mental illness can be an ugly beast to face, and the decision should be left to a medical professional.
A complex relationship exists between cannabis and mental health. Most studies done on the links between the two failed to factor in key components such as genetics, social factors and predisposition to mental illness. While some studies have found a link between poor mental health and marijuana use, this could mostly be chalked-up to self medicating without potentially going for strong prescription medications, such as Sertraline (Zoloft) and Fluoxetine (Prozac), which can have serious side effects and become psychologically addictive. The prescriptions of such medications is left to a doctor's discretion. Why, then, can they not recommend a substance that could be less harmful to a patient? When a person is suffering from mental illness and medications aren't helping the way they should, where are they supposed to turn? It's easy to see why many people in this situation would pull out their bong or dab rig rather than give in to feelings of panic and hopelessness.
It can only be concluded that the recommendation of medical marijuana from a physician to a patient should be left to the doctor's discretion, to monitor the effects of cannabis use on a patient-to-patient basis. For the time being, all we can do is wait. Hopefully a greater number of states will become open to the use of cannabis to ease symptoms of mental illness, leading to even more research done on the subject. We've made so much progress as a nation in the acceptance of marijuana, it's time to take it to the next step.