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)

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

The Bella Coola RCMP are investigating the cause of the fire (Caitlin Thompson photo)
RCMP investigating Bay Motor Hotel fire

Anyone with information is asked to call Bella Coola RCMP 250 799 5363 or Crimestoppers

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before Phillip Tallio’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

A third-party crew cut the Telus fiber line on Tuesday, Nov. 17, resulting in a nearly 24hr communications blackout for the Valley (Black Press Media)
Recent outage highlights vulnerabilites in local communication infrastructure

A third-party crew accidentally severed the cable on Highway 20, resulting in a valley-wide communications outage

The Bay Hotel burned to the ground last night (Christina Hoppe photo)
Bay Hotel burns to the ground in early morning fire

The building was abandoned and had been falling apart for years

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read