What Does Medical Marijuana Help?

More than 600,000 people in the United States turn to cannabis for pain relief – and there is strong scientific evidence for its effectiveness.

In a recent Canadian study, cannabis even calmed laboratory rats with arthritis. Surprisingly, there is (as yet) little evidence from human studies for the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, the wear-related joint disease that affects 50% of adults 65 and older. Clinical trials are ongoing. But who is waiting? In a 2019 Colorado survey, arthritis was the top reason older adults used cannabis, followed by back pain. Overall, 79% said it helped.


NASEM classifies the scientific evidence on whether you sleep better when cannabis is used as only “moderate.” But that has not made older users slow down. More than one in three people in a Colorado survey tried sleeping marijuana; 86% said it helped. “I have had peripheral neuropathy in my left foot for decades. The blazing pain wouldn’t let me sleep,” says Paul Kinder, who recently attended a seminar on medical marijuana near his home at The Villages, to learn more. “Now, I am using cannabis, and I can sleep.

Depression, anxiety, and PTSD

In a recent survey, one in five older adults surveyed resorted to using medical marijuana to dispel low moods and calm chronic tension. More than 90% said it helped.

So far, there is little data for these mental health problems. We will know more soon. At least seven studies of cannabis for anxiety or depression are ongoing in the United States and worldwide. At least six studies are also done for PTSD. For now, small studies and surveys give clues to benefits and problems —, particularly for depression.

As with any medication, dosage matters: more was not better. The bad news: Over time, her continued depression got a little worse. According to the researchers, regular use could change cannabinoid receptors in the brain and increase vulnerability to negative mood states. By quitting using marijuana, you can back down.