Cannabis and the Future of Anti-Anxiety Medication

“One of the most commonly cited reasons for chronic cannabis use is to cope with stress. Consistent with this, cannabis users have shown reduced emotional arousal and dampened stress reactivity in response to negative imagery.” That’s the rationale statement behind a major study investigating the link between cannabis and stress reduction published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

In the study, 40 “chronic” cannabis users and 42 non-users were subjected to the Maastricht Acute Stress Test (MAST) which manipulates physiological (placing the subject’s hand in an ice bath) and psychosocial (performing math under conditions of social evaluation) stress levels. Stress was then measured by tracking the amount of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in study participants’ saliva.

The results were not surprising. Daily cannabis users had a “blunted” (no pun intended) response to acute stress. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users,” said Carrie Cuttler, study co-author and clinical assistant professor of psychology. “While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”

The study could prove useful in eventually supplementing, if not replacing, the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines (Xanax and Klonopin are examples) with cannabis, which has fewer side effects and less overdose potential.

The Green Solution fully supports further research into the possible medicinal uses of cannabis, but remember: always consult a doctor before commencing a regime of self-medication, and especially before replacing a prescription drug with cannabis.