Study: Cannabis May Mitigate Traumatic Memories In Patients With PTSD

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s news alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

The use of cannabis and cannabinoids appears to mitigate symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new review of clinical and preclinical evidence published online in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

An international team of investigators from Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom reported that the use of cannabis to “dramatically reduced” PTSD symptoms in a single 19-year-old male patient.

Authors reported: “In the case report presented in this review, the patient displayed a grave pathology involving anxiety, dissociation and heavy flashbacks as a consequence of PTSD. … The patient stated that he found cannabis more useful than lorazepam. … It is evident from the case history that the patient experienced reduced stress, less involvement with flashbacks and a significant decrease of anxiety.

Authors further cited “accumulating clinical and preclinical evidence that cannabinoids may mitigate some major symptoms associated with PTSD.”

They concluded: “Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. … Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD.”

Last year, administrators at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) blocked investigators at the University of Arizona at Phoenix from conducting an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 patients with PTSD.

Under federal law, any clinical trial evaluations involving cannabis must receive NIDA approval because the agency is the only source of legal cannabis for FDA-approved research purposes. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told The New York Times: “[O]ur focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

53 thoughts

  1. Psyc at the VA said I had been self medicating for PTSD since childhood. Ended up an alcoholic then heroin addict before I figured it out. Marijuana helped me get off of both and cigarretts ! Only use pot for the PTSD and chronic pain from degenerative disc disease. Psyc said to keep doing what I’m doing and if I needed to give them a call!!

  2. I have PTSD from childhood abuse. With the help of medical marijuana, I was able to stop taking Lorazepam (which I became addicted to just taking it as prescribed) and I no longer have anxiety attacks and my flashbacks now barely happen. Medical marijuana is a wonderful tool for people with PTSD.

  3. I was diagnosed with similar – PTSD, Depression and anxiety… my psychologist wrong a letter recommending marijuana but unfortunately in NH it’s still not recognized for treatment of PTSD. When I do have opportunity to use it sometimes I get very anxious… however, this is because I’m normally locked inside of myself, or I can’t select the bud that works for me. From age 20 to 50 I had regular access and I thrived… now without it my depression is worsening, and I’m quite unmotivated. Going on 8 years. I’ve been prescribed nearly all the anti-depressants available and they either don’t work or the side effects are terrible. As my psychologist pointed out, few side effects to cannabis, and I deserve the opportunity to live a good life. However at this point both my doctor who’s opposed and the federal government feel if one needs pot to be healthy, it’s the individual with the problem, not the lack of drugs! I’m a throw-away person. There’s lots of us in the world where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is for others… those who take their pills and are thankful. The rest of us can rot in hell as the feds will not, for any reason, look beyond the hypocrisy of their own ignorance and money made making victims out of many good people.

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