According to the most recent data provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), there are more than 172,000 medical marijuana cardholders in the state of Arizona. The majority of medical cannabis users (just under 87 percent) cite chronic pain as the primary reason for use, but there are more than a dozen other approved debilitating medical conditions for which patients can seek a prescription for medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, anxiety—or more accurately, anxiety disorder—is not one of them.

 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal bodily response to stressful situations and is associated with the natural “fight or flight” response humans have developed over time. Anxiety disorder, in contrast, is a broad term used to describe a range of disorders characterized by excessive and prolonged feelings of anxiety, nervousness or fear that inhibit or interfere with everyday activity. These disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.

More than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, symptoms of which may include panic attacks, insomnia, compulsive behavior, fatigue and social withdrawal. Very often, people diagnosed with anxiety disorder also suffer from depression.

 

Why is anxiety disorder missing from the list of qualifying medical conditions?

Similar to other states where medical marijuana is legal, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) lists specific diseases or disorders that qualify patients for medical marijuana use. However, patients may submit a request to have their medical condition(s) added if they do not appear on the list.

In January of 2012, a public petition was submitted requesting that general anxiety disorder, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and migraines be added to the list of conditions that qualify patients to legally use medical marijuana in Arizona.

Following an assessment of the petition and a review of published studies commissioned by the ADHS and conducted by the University of Arizona College of Public Health, former ADHS Director Will Humble decided there was not enough evidence to show that the use of medical cannabis would provide relief for patients with anxiety disorder.

Incidentally, it was also determined that migraines were likely covered under “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” (see below).

 

What are the qualifying conditions for Arizona medical marijuana patients?

The following is a complete list of accepted debilitating medical conditions, as defined by Arizona law.

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
    • Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
    • Severe and chronic pain;
    • Severe nausea;
    • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
    • Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

PTSD was added to the list in July of 2014. However, the use of medical cannabis for PTSD is limited to palliative care of PTSD symptoms and is not considered a treatment or cure for the condition. You can read more about that decision here.

 

Will anxiety disorder be added to the list anytime soon?

That will depend on whether or not more compelling evidence is provided in the future and if there is enough published data about the risks and benefits of using medical marijuana for the treatment and comfort of patients with anxiety disorder.

 

I use medical marijuana for a different condition but found it also helps with anxiety.

We actually hear this quite often—that relief of anxiety symptoms is an unexpected or pleasant side effect of using medical marijuana.

It is worth noting that patients can request a prescription for medical cannabis for more than one condition, and often a patient being treated for chronic pain, cancer, Crohn’s disease or another medical condition will find that their cannabis prescription also helps to ease symptoms of anxiety. For this reason, we put together a helpful blog for patients seeking more information about the topic: What Medical Marijuana Strain is Best for Anxiety?

 

At Desert Rose Dispensary, our patients are our #1 priority.

We understand that finding the right treatment can sometimes be a challenge, which is why we aim to educate and empower our patients to seek out the best possible treatment options. We take the time to explain the different aspects of medical marijuana and the products available to help you feel better.

Desert Rose offers a wide variety of cannabis treatments, with forty different strains of flower, thirty different concentrates and edibles, a full selection of topicals, tinctures and much more.

View our full menu online or stop by the dispensary any day of the week to talk to one of our knowledgeable and friendly dispensary agents. And don’t forget to ask about the latest dispensary deals for first-time patients! Right now, we’re offering a FREE 8th of flower or $20 off your total purchase.

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