Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder

More than a few patients have heard me admit: “well, your drug is better than my drugs.” We’ve gone back to marijuana (MJ) after trying my mood stabilizer regimens because the results were better with fewer side effects.

However, MJ can also make some other patients psychotic. It’s really bad for some people. And really good for some others. So obviously one cannot make blanket judgments about whether using MJ is good or bad, wise or foolish. It depends on the individual.

On top of that, as most people now know, “marijuana” is not just one thing. There are many variations. Some versions make people “high”(some really high), but at least one version has been bred to avoid that. You may have heard of  the “Charlotte’s Web” variant.  (Time magazine’s 2014 article on it; and Wikipedia, which is very detailed).

The point then: don’t condemn marijuana as “bad” for people with bipolar disorder. But at the same time don’t forget: for some people it’s a disaster.  Hopefully soon we’ll know more about which kinds of MJ do what.

Research on Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder

Here are three papers that will give you a sense of the state of this research as of 4/2015.

1. A review from 2005 : look how much thought had gone this already, that far back. This gets fairly technical.  You can just skim it to see how detailed the work had become even back then. Ashton

2. a two-person case report using cannabidiol (the Charlotte’s Web ingredient). It didn’t work for mania. Zuardia

3.  An examination of marijuana effects over a week, in 24 individuals (not good). Tyler