The other day my friend, Alan, sent a message.  He’d been reading my recent posts regarding my battle with depression.  He told me of a friend of his who has depression and treats it with medical marijuana and suggested it might be something I want consider.  Alan and I met at a recovery house about 10 years ago and got sober together, so it seemed like a strange suggestion.  He mentioned that oddness in his message, but, went on to say, “I know we are both sober boys but what’s the point if you feel like the ground is going to open up and swallow you?”  My immediate reaction was “Good point!”  I decided to talk it over with my pdoc, however, I won’t see him for another month so I’ve done a little research on my own.Cannabis leaf

Surprisingly, I found little information as I scoured the internet, but finally I stumbled upon an Aug. 15, 2012 issue of the Atlantic titled “Pot May Improve Cognitive Functioning in Bipolar Disorder” by Lindsay Abrams.  According to the article there is some validity to what Alan said.  One study showed that there may be some positive effects for patients with bipolar disorder.  At least for patients with bipolar I.  The article doesn’t mention anything about those of us that are bipolar II. Well, at least I think I’m bipolar II.  I’m not sure.  I was originally diagnosed with BP I, then my pdoc changed it to BP II, then back to BP I, and so on and so on.

For those of you unfamiliar with the difference between BP I and BP II, the quick and dirty definition is BP I folks tend to lean more toward the manic side, while those with BP II lean toward the depressive side.   I recently asked my newer pdoc whether my diagnosis was BP I or BP II.  His response was “Why does it matter if the meds are working?”  I just shrugged my shoulders and went on my merry way.  I’m sorry…I digress.  Back to the matter at hand…cannabis.

200 people participated in the study.  50 who had a history of marijuana use, and 150 had no history of marijuana use. Those with a history of marijuana use performed superior cognitive functioning.  They performed better processing speed, attention and working memory.

Sound great so far?  Well, don’t go digging your old bong out of storage yet.  Other studies tell a different story.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse links marijuana use with mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents.  They also showed a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities.

Another study was conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.  Their study, done over 12 months, found that cannabis users exhibited higher levels of overall illness severity, mania, and psychosis compared with nonusers.  In addition, marijuana users experienced less satisfaction with life and had a lower probability of having a relationship,

So, what does all this mean?  I don’t have a damn clue. Is it good or is it bad?  I’m prone to believe that the idea of smoking weed ain’t such a good idea.  My gut tells me that people living with depression are more likely to be brought further down by getting high.  I have nothing to back this up, though, except for the last study that I mentioned.

On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot of anecdotal stories by people who claim their lives were better off by taking medical marijuana.  I’m not talking about just the friend of a friend who I mentioned in the first paragraph.  People in support groups I’ve attended make the same claim.  They believed their lives were improved by their marijuana use.

In the end it will come down to talking with my pdoc next month.  I have no doubt that he will not give me a prescription for medical marijuana.  This will be especially true given my history of addiction to alcohol and crystal meth.  If he does say no, it will still be easy to get.  I could go to the infamous Venice Beach where doctors have set up cheesy clinics specifically to give you a prescription for medical marijuana right there and then.  It is no coincidence that the clinics to get your prescription filled are right next door to where these doctors have hung out their shingles.  It is an option I have, but one that I will not take.  I’m going to stick with the doctor’s opinion.  If he surprises me and gives me a prescription, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Are any of you using medical marijuana and found it has made an effect on your life?  Perhaps a friend (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) has shared their experience.  I’m interested in hearing your stories and whether you found it good or bad.

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