In this Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 photo, a customer sniffs a display sample of marijuana, in a tamper-proof container secured with a cable, sold at Evergreen Cannabis, a marijuana retail shop, in Vancouver, B.C. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Cannabis could help those struggling with PTSD, B.C. study finds

Canada has one of the highest rates of PTSD worldwide at 9.2 per cent.

Using cannabis could help people who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, a B.C. study has found.

The study, a partnership between the B.C. Centre on Substance Use and the University of B.C., found that having PTSD was strongly associated with suffering a major depressive period and suicidal ideation among people who did not use cannabis. The link was not present in those who did use cannabis.

The data, published Tuesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, is the first of its kind, said lead author and BCCSU research associate Stephanie Lake.

The key, she said, was being able to use Statistics Canada data rather than waiting for clinical trials to finish up.

“There’s really been a rise in the number of Canadians who were using cannabis for PTSD,” Lake said. “We’ve seen a lot of patient reports of success with PTSD and cannabis, but we’ve yet to see a clinical study.”

The researchers used data related to the cannabis use and mental health of 24,000 people, and drew conclusions about how the drug interacts with the disorder. The information is particularly relevant in Canada, which has one of the highest rates of PTSD worldwide at 9.2 per cent of the population.

Of the 24,089 people in the study, 420 had a current PTSD diagnosis. Of those, 106 people, or 28.2 per cent, reported using cannabis in the past year, compared to 11.2 per cent of those who did not have PTSD.

Non-users with PTSD were seven times more likely to have a major depressive episode and nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, compared with users of cannabis.

Lake, who is also a PhD student at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, said the research was too broad to discern why cannabis had the effect it did, but it did point to what use was most helpful for PTSD.

“We saw that compared to non-users, lower risk [cannabis] users were at a reduced likelihood of major depressive episodes and suicidal ideation, but higher risk users were at a higher chance,” she said. Higher-risk users show signs of cannabis use disorder, which is a compulsive use of pot and an inability to stop.

M-J Milloy, a professor of cannabis science at UBC, said the findings open up further avenues to study cannabis.

“One of the important results of the study is it really supports our plans to move forward with clinical trials,” he said.

“There’s clearly lots of patients self-medicating with cannabis, but there’s a real gap with our clinical knowledge.”

Milloy said legalization and regulation would help narrow what kinds of cannabis work best for PTSD, because patients and researchers would be assured of the strain and the THC or CBD content.

“We know that many people believe certain strains of cannabis work better, [while] some people want to use cannabis edibles, or prefer high CBD,” he said.

“As scientists, we want figure out if these preferences are real so we can optimize them for PTSD treatment.”

READ MORE: Canadian study links teenage pot use to increased risk of suicidal behaviour

READ MORE: B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

RCMP report

Some of the more interesting callouts for Columbia Valley RCMP November 4-10th

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Watching our water footprint

Lake Windermere Ambassadors coordinator walks through water footprint

Films celebrate passionate people and places

Get your tickets now for upcoming Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

B.C. petition calls for seat belts in new school buses

Agassiz bus driver collects 124,000 signatures in support

Abbotsford police chief mulls more enforcement of homeless lawbreakers

‘When all else has failed we have to hold people accountable,’ Police Chief Mike Serr tells council

Government needs to step up to address $10M RCMP budget deficit: Morrison

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison says governments need to ensure rural communities are protected

Striking Vancouver hotel workers, employer reach ‘tentative’ agreement

Employees of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been out at picket lines since talks broke off on Sept. 21

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Cell phone tickets worse tax grab than speed limits, SenseBC says

Distracted driving statistics questioned as B.C. tickets pile up

Most Read