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

Aspiring entrepreneurs invited to pitch ideas at Dragons’ Den auditions

Abbotsford and Vancouver the only Lower Mainland try-out locations

Mission firefighters raise $4,776 for BC Lung Association

19th annual Climb the Wall event took place in Vancouver last week

Fraser Valley Inn and nearby property put up for sale for $8.9 million

With development proposal still before city hall, owners seek to sell downtown Abbotsford landmark

PHOTOS: Top 5 oldest schools in Abbotsford

Check out how some schools looked over 100 years ago

Mission’s Barnsdale wins bronze at BC Winter Games

Speed skater takes home hardware from Fort St. John event

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Most Read