It’s 2021 and we all know that mental health is just as important as physical health, given that one can affect the other and vice versa. Another thing that we’re also more aware of now is that anxiety is one of the most common conditions that make the daily lives of millions of individuals that much harder.
Anxiety disorders are most commonly treated with a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medication, depending on the severity. However, following the legalization of medical marijuana (MMJ), many states have started to prescribe it for anxiety as an alternative to the usual anxiety medications.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll talk about medical marijuana for anxiety, how it can help, and in which states it can be obtained.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders that are characterized by excessive and uncontrollable feelings of fear and worry to such an extent that it interferes with the individual’s quality of life. Each anxiety disorder has its unique symptoms and triggers, but what they all have in common is having fear from hypothetical or non-threatening situations.
The groups of anxiety-related disorders are the following:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive fear and worry about aspects of everyday life that interfere with their normal functioning, even when they know that there’s nothing to worry about;
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where individuals experience intrusive thoughts that compel them to perform certain routines repetitively (called compulsions) to get relief from feelings of anxiety;
- Panic disorder is characterized by experiencing sudden bouts of so-called panic attacks which come with intense fear coupled with physical symptoms such as racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, and breaking in cold sweat;
- Social anxiety disorder is manifested by having intense anxiety regarding social situations in everyday life. It’s far more than just being shy, for example, individuals feel overly self-conscious and worry about being ridiculed;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) most often develops in individuals who have been through a traumatic event, like war, abuse, natural disaster, or any kind of life-threatening or life-changing event. PTSD is characterized by vivid flashbacks of the traumatic event that can either come suddenly or be triggered by certain situations in everyday life;
- Agoraphobia is fear of places that are perceived as being unsafe and hard to escape from, such as public transit, open spaces, or simply being outside, often leading to the individual avoiding these places;
- Specific phobias include an extreme fear and irrational fear of a specific object or situation where the individual will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Individuals typically experience both emotional and physical anxiety symptoms, the most common being:
- Restlessness or irritability
- Feeling tense or on edge
- Rumination and concentration problems
- Sleep problems
- Increased heart rate and palpitations
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Muscle tenseness
- Increased sweating
- Dry mouth
If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you probably know that anxiety is a treatable condition. The traditional treatment for anxiety often involves a combination of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and anxiety medications.
However, these meds often cause unpleasant side effects, which is why more and more people turn to cannabis as a treatment option. Research shows that cannabis can be beneficial for anxiety, and many states where medical cannabis use is legal started prescribing medical cannabis for anxiety.
What Are the Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Anxiety?
Medical marijuana is now well-known for being an effective treatment primarily for chronic pain and also other symptoms related to different medical conditions. Now we also know that cannabis use for the treatment of anxiety seems like a very good alternative to typical anxiety meds (and a way to manage the condition in a safer way).
The two major cannabinoids in marijuana, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), attach to the endocannabinoid receptors in the human body and influence a variety of functions. Both of them influence the production of dopamine and serotonin, the mood-regulating hormones.
However, higher THC content can have the opposite effect and cause anxiety in some people. That’s why medical marijuana is more focused on using CBD-dominant products or pure CBD because of its non-intoxicating, therapeutic, and anxiolytic properties, as well as its low incidence of side effects. Marijuana also has plenty of other compounds, like terpenes, that also have calming properties and can mitigate the effects of THC.
CBD oil is one popular form of medical marijuana, but you can also smoke medical marijuana, as long as you’re using a strain that’s CBD dominant. We have an extensive guide on marijuana strains for anxiety that you can refer to when doing your research.
Can You Get Medical Marijuana for Anxiety?
Medical Marijuana (MMJ) is currently legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. That means that these states have medical marijuana programs that enable patients to obtain a medical marijuana card.
Upon consultation with a marijuana doctor, which is a licensed medical professional specializing in working with medical marijuana, patients will get a prescription for their condition. Your doctor will tell you everything you need to know about your cannabis treatment and tell you what forms of medical marijuana would be best for you.
The next step would be to obtain your prescription from a medical marijuana dispensary and talk to the budtender if you have any additional questions about the product you’re purchasing.
However, there is one caveat. In order to be eligible for a medical marijuana card, your condition must be on the list of qualifying conditions for MMJ. The list varies from state to state, although there are a few conditions that are on each state’s list.
What States List Anxiety as a Qualifying Condition for a Medical Marijuana Card?
Despite its high prevalence, currently, not many states list anxiety as a qualifying condition, although most states list PTSD or OCD.
States that list anxiety as a qualifying condition include:
- Puerto Rico
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
States that List PTSD as a qualifying condition include:
- New York
- Michigan (and OCD)
- Washington D.C.
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Bottom Line – Anxiety Is a Qualifying Condition for MMJ in Some States
Mental health is just as important as physical health and it can be affected by many different forms of stress (which can result in different mental health conditions). Anxiety is one such condition that’s very prevalent in the world among people of all ages. It causes some very unpleasant symptoms, but it’s a very treatable condition with the right approach.
Anxiety patients are typically treated with prescription meds, but medical marijuana may offer the same benefits with fewer side effects. However, not each state where medical marijuana is legal lists anxiety as a qualifying condition for an MMJ card. If you’re interested in using MMJ for your anxiety, it’s best to consult with a professional and check if your state allows the use of MMJ for anxiety disorders.