Can you get a medical marijuana card for anxiety and depression in PA?
Yes and No.
Can you get a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card for anxiety or depression? Unfortunately, of the qualifying conditions for a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card, aside from PTSD, other anxiety disorders are not listed among them, nor is depression. However, there may be a way around this problem for patients suffering from depression and anxiety disorders other than PTSD.
Aside from PTSD — which is a type of anxiety disorder — neither anxiety nor depression is listed among the 21 qualifying medical conditions for a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card. And that’s a shame considering depression and anxiety are among the top reasons that patients give for using medical marijuana. Sometimes, PTSD is the root cause and may qualify.
Residents in the Keystone State will have no problem getting a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania for PTSD. You can skip right over to our “How to get a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania” article to learn more about the process.
Now for those of you suffering from some other type of anxiety disorder or depression, we hope to save you a lot of headaches (perhaps literally) and money by providing an alternative…
Is medical marijuana really a good choice for treating anxiety and depression?
Did you know that THC, the intoxicating compound found in marijuana can actually make anxiety and depression worse sometimes? It’s true. And many a newbie taking up smoking marijuana or eating marijuana edibles has found out the hard way that consuming too much THC can cause feelings of extreme paranoia and anxiety.
Furthermore, although smoking marijuana might temporarily ease depression and impart a sense of euphoria (if used properly), in the long run, it can make matters worse. As the effect wears off, the patient can sink back into feelings of depression. Some end up abusing marijuana to escape from depression. And when abused, marijuana can cause chronic lethargy and drastically sap motivation in some people resulting in the user not healing and certainly not becoming their best version of themselves.
Given these facts, perhaps medical marijuana isn’t such a good option for treating depression and anxiety?
But if that’s the case, why do so many other states aside from Pennsylvania allow depression and anxiety patients to obtain a medical marijuana card? And why are so many people using medical marijuana to treat their condition?
The answer is simple: CBD.
Hemp flower and CBD oil as a substitute for medical marijuana
CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid compound similar to THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The major difference being that CBD doesn’t get people high.
But there’s another, more important difference. CBD is not illegal in Pennsylvania. In fact, CBD can be purchased at drugstores, health food stores, and vape shops across the state. And anyone can buy CBD online.
For those that prefer to smoke their cannabis. High-CBD smokable hemp flower can also be purchased online. Hemp buds look, smell, taste, and smoke exactly like marijuana but without causing couch lock. For those that enjoy the experience of smoking, hemp flower offers many of the medicinal benefits of marijuana without the high and without breaking the law. (Smoking is not recommended for patients with high blood pressure or heart and lung issues. Also, some states have banned smokable hemp. Check the hemp and CBD laws in your state.)
Looking further into the matter, many experts believe that cannabis products containing CBD are a far better choice for treating anxiety and depression than marijuana products that just contain THC.
CBD has been shown to help modulate the production and uptake of a hormone called serotonin. And patients suffering from anxiety and depression oftentimes show low levels of serotonin. Bringing serotonin levels back into balance can help to calm the anxious and cheer up the depressed.
(It’s important to point out that as with most herbal remedies, cannabis affects each person differently. While some might find that CBD-rich hemp does the trick, others might find that no form of cannabis helps or that some strains of hemp might make things worse in their particular case. For this reason, it’s important to start with small doses. And some experimentation might be required to find the right strains.)
For more information on how CBD is being used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, as well to examine some of the scientific evidence for CBD’s efficacy in treating anxiety and depression, check out these two articles:
Delta-8-THC as a substitute for medical marijuana
But wait there’s more. There’s another product on the market that’s gaining traction among patients suffering from anxiety and depression as well as PTSD. It’s actually a different form of THC known as delta-8-THC. And, amazingly, marijuana isn’t required to produce delta-8-THC. It can be produced in the lab from hemp-derived CBD.
Delta-8-THC is similar to the THC that’s found in marijuana but it has some major differences. First, the psychotropic effects of D8THC are far milder than those of D9THC. This is actually a good thing for both anxiety patients and depression patients.
For anxiety patients, D8THC is far less likely to produce feelings of paranoia and anxiety. And for those suffering from depression, D8THC offers just enough of an uplifting effect to help the patient get on the right track without the lethargy that can come with smoking marijuana or using marijuana edibles.
Also, as with CBD oil and hemp flower, patients can buy delta-8-THC online. Some online hemp/CBD shops even offer products such as hemp flower, hemp hash, and hemp kief that are infused with delta-8-THC. And, of course, for those who choose to get a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card, delta-8-THC can sometimes be purchased at medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
There is one potential problem, however. That is the federal government is now aware that it overlooked delta-8-THC when drafting hemp and CBD laws. As a result, delta-8-THC exists in a kind of gray area of the law. It’s very likely that the federal government will change its stance on D8THC making it much harder to find in the future. (That being said, it’s doubtful that they can eradicate it.)
As such, if you’re interested in purchasing D8THC, it’s a good idea to do so as soon as possible and to stock up on it just in case the feds ban it.
There’s one more benefit to D8THC. D9THC breaks down over time and turns into other minor cannabinoids which can make users even more lethargic than THC. D8THC, on the other hand, is highly stable and offers a long shelf-life making it a far better product to stockpile.
Word of warning on delta-8-THC
An industry report recently came out that talked about a cannabis lab that had tested numerous products supposedly containing delta-8-THC. What they found is that many of the products contained far less of the compound than the manufacturers claimed or even none at all. Because D8THC falls into a gray area in hemp laws many makers feel they can get around the lab testing process that’s required in all states with hemp programs.
For this reason, it’s important to buy delta-8-THC from a highly reputable source.
Could anxiety and depression be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions for a Pennsylvania medical marijuana card in the future?
It is possible that more conditions, including anxiety and depression, could be added to Pennsylvania’s list of qualifying conditions alongside PTSD at some point in the future. It’s also possible that lawmakers will put the decision of who qualifies for a medical marijuana card into the hands of Pennsylvania medical marijuana doctors where it belongs.
Until then, hemp flower, CBD, and delta-8-THC might provide adequate relief for some anxiety and depression patients.
Best medical marijuana strains for depression and anxiety disorders
Some patients might decide to go the medical marijuana card route, perhaps because of another qualifying condition or because the patient lives in a state where anxiety and depression are qualifying conditions. If this is the case, then products that are low in THC and high in CBD are a better choice.
Below are a few of the more popular cannabis strains that are high in CBD and low in THC.
- Charlotte’s Web (30:1, 20% CBD)
- Valentine X (25:1, 17% CBD)
- Ringo’s Gift (24:1, 20% CBD)
- Harle-Tsu (20:1, 22% CBD)
- ACDC (20:1, 19% CBD)
- Harlequin (5:2, 15% CBD)
Although anxiety and depression patients (not including PTSD) can’t yet purchase these strains in Pennsylvania, there are many states where marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older. If one were to find oneself in one of these states these would be better options for anxiety and depression patients than strains that are high in THC.
And for those who can tolerate higher levels of THC, here are some cannabis strains that offer a balance of CBD and THC.
- Sour Tsunami (1:1, 11% CBD)
- Stephen Hawking Kush (1:1, 22% CBD)
- Warlock (1:1, 13% CBD)
Not every medical marijuana dispensary carries these particular strains. However, a qualified budtender will be able to point you in the direction of other strains with similar CBD to THC ratios.
Another option would be to buy both CBD-rich hemp flower and marijuana that’s high in THC and just mix a little marijuana into the hemp flower. This gives you a high-CBD, low-THC mix at a lower price than if you were to purchase something like ACDC at 20:1 CBD.