top of page

Using medical cannabis for pain, insomnia, anxiety and depressive symptoms

Our editors at IBS Life have been seeing a number of folks on social media talk about the use of cannabis to ease their IBS pain and anxiety. But before asking for a medical marijuana card at the next doctor’s appointment, consider this.

Instead of alleviating symptoms, cannabis use may lead to certain medical issues. A team of investigators discovered that adults who use a cannabis medical card at a medical dispensary increase their risk of developing cannabis use disorder (CUD), a condition that is similar to addiction. CUD affects roughly 10% of the 193 million cannabis users in the world.

The scientists in the study looked at CUD symptoms among adults who received a card in order to address their chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. The researchers did not see any significant improvements in pain, anxiety, and depressive symptoms except for alleviating insomnia. Interestingly, the incidence of CUD was particularly higher among those who identified anxiety or depressive symptoms as their primary concern.

Symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder

You don’t have to be addicted to suffer from cannabis use disorder (CUD), according to the scientists who work in drug addiction. CUD is a diagnosis given for problematic marijuana use. Here are some signs to look for if you are concerned a loved one may have CUD:

  • Continuing to use cannabis despite physical or psychological problems

  • Continuing to use cannabis despite social or relationship problems

  • Difficulty controlling or cutting down cannabis use

  • Giving up or reducing other activities in favor of cannabis

  • Problems at work, school, and home as a result of cannabis use

  • Spending a lot of time on cannabis use

  • Taking cannabis in high-risk situations

  • Taking more cannabis than was intended

  • Withdrawal when stopping cannabis

If you think a loved one may have CUD, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-4357.

Ultimately, the study’s findings suggested a need to further examine the benefits of adults using a medical marijuana card to deal with their insomnia symptoms or those related to affective disorders. In addition, the risk of cannabis use disorder also needs to be more thoroughly investigated, particularly among adults with anxiety or depressive symptoms.

The clinical trial was conducted in the Greater Boston area by the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Effect of Medical Marijuana Card Ownership on Pain, Insomnia, and Affective Disorder Symptoms in Adults” was recently published in JAMA Network Open.


bottom of page