Medical Marijuana and OCD

Approximately 2-3% of the US population suffers from OCD. There are treatments out there but they don’t always work for everybody, and the condition can make life difficult. It is important to know your options, and today we will discuss whether medical marijuana is an option for OCD.
cannabis and ocd

What is OCD?

Before we talk about if medical marijuana provides relief for people who have OCD, we should have a clear definition of what OCD actually is. OCD is a condition where unwanted thoughts or ideas (obsessions) lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions) in an individual. Approximately 2-3% of the US population has OCD and the symptoms typically emerge earlier in life, with an average age being nineteen when symptoms appear. For a person to actually be diagnosed with OCD, the time they spend dealing with obsessions or compulsions has to amount to at least one hour per day, cause distress, and negatively affect social or work functioning.
marijuana and ocd

Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

There are four general categories. of OCD that most cases fall under:
  • Contamination: The fear of uncleanliness or germs, often leads to obsessive cleaning.
  • Symmetry and Order: A strong need for things to be lined up a certain way.
  • Ruminations and Intrusive Thoughts: Being obsessed with a sometimes disturbing or violent line of thinking.
  • Checking: The constant checking of locks, light switches, ovens, or thinking you have a medical condition.
Examples of the obsessive thoughts people suffer from include:
  • A constant fear of yourself or others suffering injury or death. 
  • Regular but unfounded suspicions of an unfaithful partner.
  • Being conscious of body functions that are normally involuntary, like blinking and breathing.
Some examples of compulsions are:
  • A need to count things.
  • Always performing tasks in a specific order or a certain number of times.
  • Fear of touching doorknobs or using public toilets.
The treatments traditionally used for OCD include exposure and response prevention therapy, as well as the prescription of antidepressants. While these help many patients, they are not a cure and do not provide the same relief for everyone.
marijuana ocd

Marijuana and OCD - Can CBD Help?

The information we currently have is promising for medical marijuana being used for OCD, at least for short-term relief of symptoms. The most comprehensive study we have was recently conducted at Washington State University. It examined data from 87 individuals across 1800 cannabis sessions over a period of 31 months. The reported results for the participants after smoking cannabis were significant:
  • Compulsions were reduced by 60%.
  • Obsessive and intrusive thoughts were reduced by 49%.
  • Anxiety was reduced by 52%.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of medical marijuana for symptoms of OCD was slightly reduced over time, most likely due to participants developing a tolerance to marijuana. But overall, the reduction of symptoms remained constant. Additionally, while medical marijuana appears to be effective for the short-term relief of symptoms, it hasn’t been proven to have a long-term effect on OCD. Furthermore, medical marijuana with a higher concentration of CBD (cannabidiol) seemed to be even more effective for relieving symptoms of OCD. This alludes to pure CBD being particularly promising as a potential therapeutic treatment, as it doesn’t have the intoxicating effects THC does.

Conclusion about Medical Marijuana for OCD:

Medical Marijuana for OCD – does it help? It is still early to say and more research is needed, but the results from this study point to medical marijuana being effective for the short-term relief of OCD symptoms.

If you would like to speak to a Doctor about your OCD symptoms, book an appointment with our doctors today.

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