Warning on use of cannabis to treat mental-health issues


USING cannabis to treat mental-health problems is “not a good idea” due to associated long-term risks and the potential for misuse, according to the Island’s mental-health director.

Following reports from several ADHD patients that they had found that cannabis helped alleviate their symptoms, the JEP interviewed mental-health director Andy Weir and a local cannabis clinic to explore the positives and negatives of cannabis use for managing ADHD.

Mr Weir said: “Our advice is that the use of cannabis, where there is an associated mental-health problem, is not a good idea.

“Although some people describe immediately feeling a bit better with cannabis, there are risks associated with using cannabis to manage some of these symptoms in the longer term.

“So our absolute advice is, in the absence of a conversation with a specialist psychiatrist about whether should you be using cannabis, don’t.”

He added: “The view of the Royal College of Psychiatrists is that cannabis should not be prescribed in conjunction with a serious mental illness.

“We’ve been having conversations recently about what cannabis prescribing needs to look like. And it’s a very real issue for us.

“We are certainly seeing more people turning up to mental-health services who are talking about high use of cannabis and who have been prescribed a high volume of it.

“We’ve got questions sometimes about whether the prescribing is realistically viable for one person because of the volume.

“We know that lots of people are selling cannabis that they’re getting prescribed to substitute for other things.”

On the other hand, cannabis clinic Medicann said that medicinal cannabis was effective for easing ADHD symptoms.

A consultant psychiatrist from Medicann said: “We regularly see patients with ADHD. This may not be the main reason that they have sought treatment with medicinal cannabis, it might be for anxiety, insomnia or another medical condition.

“Many patients report that medical cannabis has positive effects on their ADHD symptoms.

“They say, for example, that their thoughts slow down and they can become more focused and productive. One patient said that they had one train of thought with medicinal cannabis instead of three.

“If patients are self-medicating with illegal cannabis for ADHD, they should be seeking medical advice and look at the legal route to medicinal cannabis via a qualified doctor through a local clinic.”

Medicann chief executive Gary Whipp said: “People who turn to illicit cannabis to self-medicate need to understand that not only are they breaking the law, but they are at more risk as they are not under the guidance of a medical professional with a tailored treatment plan that is personal to them.”

Mr Whipp said it was “important that anyone looking to manage their ADHD condition is prescribed the right form of medicinal cannabis”.

He added: “It is also important that they are guided on how to legally administer it. For example, if the product is to be combusted, it must be administered by way of a temperature-controlled dry herb vaporising device.

“Illicit cannabis often contains many substances that can be harmful, and not using a vaporiser will mean some of the benefits are not consumed, meaning it will not have the desired medicinal effect, which is why self-prescribing is not recommended and illegal.”

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