As we all attempt to find our new normal after years of pandemic living, it’s evident that this will involve an immense societal need to focus on individual mental health. With nearly one in five adults living with a mental illness, finding innovative new approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are crucial to improving the lives of millions of people. Investigators at the Mass General Research Institute are working to do just that. 

This week, we talked to Jodi Gilman, PhD, the Director of Neuroscience at the Center for Addiction Medicine (CAM) at Mass General Hospital as well as an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital.

In a recent study, Dr. Gilman, along with researchers at the center, explored how receiving a card for medical cannabis usage impacts mental health outcomes.

Many cannabis dispensaries and websites are promoting the use of marijuana for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, the scientific research regarding potential benefits of cannabis for mental health disorders is still in its early stages, meaning there is little evidence-based guidance for patients seeking alternative treatments.

“Oftentimes patients go to a dispensary and get advice from a dispensary worker who usually does not have any medical training,” Gilman explains. “They pick the products that are intriguing to them, and they try things out and they see what they like and what they don’t like.” 

“This is quite different from any other medicine, where you have a formulation that’s well-known and an established treatment/dosage regimen,” Gilman says. “In the current study, we are testing the system of commercialized cannabis that has been set up by Massachusetts.”

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