Contrary to research that suggests marijuana may act as a gateway drug, encouraging the use of other harmful substances, a new study indicates it may have the opposite effect.
Marijuana may be an effective ‘exit drug’
The researchers came to their conclusion after conducting a systematic review of 60 studies assessing the effects of either medical or non-medical marijuana on mental health and substance abuse.
The analysis revealed that medical marijuana shows potential for treating symptoms of PTSD, depression, and social anxiety.
“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada explains.
The evidence to date suggests that medical marijuana does not raise the risk of self-harm or harm to others, the researchers note, although they caution that acute marijuana intoxication and recent use of medical marijuana may affect short-term memory and other cognitive functions.
The team concludes that more research is required to further assess the effects of marijuana use on mental health and substance abuse.