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Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Associated with Reduced Symptoms in Patients with Post-Traumatic Stress

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Post-traumatic stress patients who consume state-authorized cannabis products exhibit reduced symptoms over time as compared to nonusers, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Commenting on the findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Veterans are far more likely to self-report using cannabis than are those in the general population, and many veterans attest that cannabis is effective for the self-management of their PTS symptoms. These findings substantiate their claims.”

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, John Hopkins University, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine compared PTS symptoms in cannabis-using patients relative to non-users over a one-year period. Cannabis consuming participants primary accessed THC-dominant flowers from state-authorized retailers.

Researchers reported: “Participants who used primarily THC-dominant cannabis reported a greater reduction in PTSD symptom severity over time compared to controls. Cannabis users also showed a greater than two-fold rate of remission from their PTSD diagnosis (defined by no longer meeting criteria for a PTSD diagnosis on the CAPS-5) compared to controls by the 1-year follow-up assessment.”

They concluded: “This study provides evidence that the types of cannabis available in recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries might hold promise as an alternative treatment for PTSD. … This study’s primary outcome supports the theory that cannabis should be [tested in clinical trials] as a potential therapeutic for PTSD.”

Earlier this year, a systemic review of randomized controlled trials involving the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of post-traumatic stress reported, “THC, dronabinol [oral synthetic THC] or nabilone [a synthetic cannabinoid that mimics THC] could help with hyperarousal symptoms, insomnia, anxiety, and extinction deficits related to PTSD.”

By contrast, observational trials of patients with PTS have yielded more mixed results with respect to whether or not [cannabis] use improves the condition. For instance, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported that patients perceived significant reductions in post-traumatic stress symptoms during times when they used cannabis as compared to when they did not. By contrast, a study published earlier this year in the journal Psychological Medicine reported, “No evidence of improvement in PTSD-related intrusion symptoms or remission in PTSD diagnosis in association with long-term use of cannabis.”

Full text of the study, “Long-Term, prospective, therapeutic impact of cannabis on post-traumatic stress disorder,” appears in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Additional information on cannabis and veterans’ issues is available from NORML’s fact-sheet here and also here.

Contact:
media@norml.org

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