Study: Smoking Marijuana Does Not Make You Anxious Or Depressed
By Steve Elliott
Using marijuana as an adult is not associated with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, according to a new study published on Thursday.
The research, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, challenges some previous studies which claimed an association between marijuana use and both depression and anxiety, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.
Scientists examined the records of nearly 35,000 American adults who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. They looked at the prevalence of cannabis use among study participants in 2001 and 2002, then checked on their rates of mental health problems three years later, in 2004 and 2005.
After controlling for confounding factors such as socioeconomic differences, family history, environment, and past and present psychiatric disorders, researchers found that "cannabis use was not associated with increased risk for developing mood or anxiety disorders."
Lead author Mark Olfson of Columbia University and his colleagues think that some prior evidence of supposed links between marijuana and psychiatric disorders could be due more to confounding factors than any actual connection.
The research is "a strike against the hypothesis that cannabis use causes mood and anxiety disorders," according to Keith Humphreys, a specialist in addiction and mental health at Stanford University.
The study did find an association between cannabis use and later substance use disorders, such as dependence on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
People who use one substance often use others, as in the classic beer-and-a-cigarette combo. "The findings concerning cannabis raise the question of whether alcohol use also contributes to the risk of subsequent substance use disorders," Olfson said, but he added that's beyond the scope of the current study.
The new study adds to previous research debunking the supposed connection between marijuana and mental health disorders. Much of the U.S. federal government's literature on cannabis includes erroneous claims about "links" between marijuana and depression which are downright inaccurate in view of the latest findings.
In its 2014 publication, "The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse," the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) mentions "depression" no fewer than 14 times, falsely claiming that cannabis is linked to depression among teens, adults, and even dogs.
The tragedy is that these inaccurate documents are used as the basis of a federal drug policy which locks people up for possessing a harmless plant, and shuts off safe access to a medicine that could help hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of patients.