Sure, lighting up and getting high night lift your mood and calm your anxieties but studies suggest that the effects may only be temporary.
According to a study published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders, one puff of cannabis helped reduce the symptoms of depression. Two puffs eased perceived anxiety but the greatest relief was felt was 10 puffs. Participants in the study were medical cannabis users using the app Strainprint. Users perceived a 50 percent reduction in depression and a 58 percent reduction in anxiety and stress following cannabis use, according to self-reported data.
Researchers note that low THC/high CBD cannabis was best for reducing perceived symptoms of depression and high THC/high CBD cannabis was best for reducing perceived symptoms of stress. Strains and compositions of cannabis may affect mood and body chemistry in different ways.
Despite these promising findings, researchers found that, over time the baseline symptoms of depression worsened. According to the study, chronic cannabis use has been shown to create a negative affect, “downregulation of CB1 receptors in areas such as, the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, and parahippocampal gyrus.” In other words, too much cannabis can affect chemical receptors which are responsible for mood and emotionality. Other negative effects can include impaired concentration, memory and decreased motivation.
Luckily, these effects can be reversed by decreasing or pausing cannabis consumption, according to the study. So, taking a break from cannabis may help people experiencing negative side effects.
It’s also important to note that the way cannabis is consumed changes the way it impacts your brain and body – smoking or vaping usually produces effects within two minutes and last up to four hours. On the other hand, edibles may take up to four hours to take effect but can last for up to eight hours. This delay may increase the risk of overdose because people may take more if they don’t feel the cannabis “working.”
Experts also note that people with mental health issues are more likely to become dependant on substances and may have an increased risk of marijuana use disorder. According to Healthline, people at risk or diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis may be triggered by marijuana and should proceed with caution and consult a doctor.
Other researchers are looking at cannabis, CBD and other derivatives as a treatment for depression. Preliminary data suggests that in states with strong medical marijuana programs may see a reduction in deaths by suicide. Between 1990 and 2007, suicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize.
But researchers caution that the data is still inconclusive stating, “the mechanism through which legalizing medical marijuana reduces suicides among young men remains a topic for future study. With an increasing number of states legalizing both medical and recreational use cannabis, it seems plausible that the link between mental health and cannabis may be an area of further study.