Medical Marijuana: What You Need to Know

Medical Marijuana

It will decrease migraine headache pain. It is helpful in treating chronic pain. It may be helping in detoxing from opioids. It has been used to help alleviate some of the pain caused by cancer. These are just a few of the claims made by those who argue that marijuana deserves a place as a medical treatment option. But does medical marijuana use really live up to its promises?

Some studies associate marijuana use with a threefold risk of death from hypertension (Yankey et al., 2017), higher rates of adolescent depression (Lichenstein et al., 2017), and abnormal brain function and lower IQ scores (Osuch et al., 2016).

And as for the claims that marijuana is helpful in treating opioid addiction, new research led by Marian Wilson, PhD, of the Washington State University College of Nursing found that frequent marijuana use seems to strengthen the relationship between pain and depression and anxiety, not ease it (Wilson, 2017).

So what is the truth about medical marijuana? Is it helpful in treating some conditions but not others? What are the precautions to its use? Is it addictive? And what interactions with other mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior, does it have?

Questions like these become extremely relevant with recent changes in the state and Federal legal status of medical marijuana that allow prescription in some states but not others, and for some conditions and not others.

However, with sparse research and many conflicting opinions, clinicians are increasingly being put in challenging situations when treating patients who are either already prescribed medical marijuana, or are considering using it. Yet with appropriate information about the risks and potential benefits of medical marijuana, the contraindications, and its effects on mental health conditions, clinicians can provide competent and ethical treatment about medical marijuana.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

Medical MarijuanaMedical Marijuana is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that presents a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana. In spite of the fact that nearly half of the states in this country have enacted legislation legalizing marijuana in some fashion, the reality is that neither the intended “medical” benefits of marijuana nor its known (and as yet unknown) adverse effects have been adequately examined using controlled studies. Conclusive literature remains sparse, and opinion remains divided and contentious. This course will address the major questions about marijuana that are as yet unanswered by scientific evidence. What are the known medical uses for marijuana? What is the legal status of marijuana in state and federal legislation? What are the interactions with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior? Is marijuana addictive? Is marijuana a gateway drug? What are the adverse consequences of marijuana use? Do state medical marijuana laws increase the use of marijuana and other drugs? The course will conclude with a list of implications for healthcare and mental health practitioners. Course #30-86 | 2016 | 55 pages | 24 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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