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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hockey puck with nails found at Terrace Sportsplex Arena

City believes it has already caused $4,000 of damage

Kitselas First Nation receives $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

Terrace Skating Club takes home 24 medals from regional championships

Skaters claim top spot for fifth year in a row

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

‘I would not go’ to China says B.C. traveller concerned about coronavirus

Alice Li said she goes to China every other year but would scrap any travel plans

Royal Canadian Legion expels B.C. member for wearing unearned military commendations

‘Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong’

‘I was alone’: B.C. woman warns others after robber attempts to force her to ATM

Manj Sidhu-Gill was alone in a parking lot on Jan. 15, when a man approached dressed in all black

‘Latte-sipping urbanites’ need to realize value of mining in B.C., association head says

Industry generates a total of $3.9 billion in sales of goods and service across the province

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Most Read