Medical Marijuana Approved for Anxiety Disorder in Pennsylvania

note: The Sanctuary Wellness Institute does not sell any marijuana products or CBD products

Medical Marijuana for Anxiety
Medical Marijuana for Anxiety

Medical Marijuana Approved for Anxiety Disorder in Pennsylvania

The Sanctuary Wellness Institute medical marijuana cards evaluations at 5 locations in Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Newtown Bucks County, Chester Springs, Lancaster and Camp Hill, PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health added anxiety disorders to its list of approved medical conditions for the state’s medical marijuana program. This change went in to effect as of July 20th 2019 and has been well received by patients in Pennsylvania.

Medical Marijuana Card Doctor Evaluations are available at the Sanctuary Wellness Institute. Our doctor will evaluate your condition and is authorized to issue your card. We have offices in Philadelphia, Newtown, Chester Springs, Lancaster and Camp Hill.

Call (484) 346-5140 to schedule.

Medical Marijuana and Anxiety

Medical marijuana is used in the treatment of a wide array of diseases such as chronic pain, cancer, arthritis, depression, diabetes, glaucoma, migraines, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.

Alongside legalization, comes increased research surrounding medical marijuana’s efficacy as a medicine. More and more people are turning to medical marijuana in hopes of relieving or managing anxiety. Research in this area is still sparse, although there are some anecdotal and scientific reports of medical marijuana relieving symptoms of anxiety and stress.

The global medical marijuana market is expected to reach a value of US$44.4 billion by 2024, with a predicted growth of 22.9 percent between 2019-2024 (1). Twenty-six countries and thirty-six states in the USA have now legalized medical marijuana; these numbers will only continue to rise.

What Is Anxiety?

There are different forms of anxiety disorders. These include social, phobic, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Diagnostic criteria and symptoms for each anxiety disorder differ. The WHO’s International Classification of Diseases note symptoms of:

  • Apprehensive thoughts, worrying about the future, difficulty concentrating and feeling on edge.
  • Motor tension, trembling, inability to relax, tension headaches, and restless fidgeting.
  • Autonomic overactivity, lightheadedness, tachypnoea or tachycardia, sweating, dizziness, dry mouth.

The prevalence of anxiety disorders globally ranges from 2.5 to 7 percent by country. There is estimated to be about 284 million people globally who experienced an anxiety disorder (2).

Typical Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Treatment for anxiety disorders depends on the form and individual preferences, but it is usually treated with medication and therapy.

Doctors typically recommend stress management techniques. Stress management is achieved by organizing timetables, relaxation techniques like yoga, exercise, meditation, breathing techniques and writing down positive and negative thoughts. Counseling is also offered with trained mental health professionals.

Medications can help control the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Although most come with nasty side effects such as weight gain, drowsiness, nausea, sexual dysfunction and can be addictive. Cessation of some medications can also cause withdrawal symptoms.

The Endocannabinoid System And Anxiety

The modulation of the endocannabinoid system through the ingestion of medical marijuana influences a range of functions in the body, including those associated with anxiety.

Endocannabinoids are lipids produced naturally by the body and act as a neurotransmitter. These lipids activate CB1 and CB2 receptors in areas of the brain known to affect behavioral and emotional reactions, learning, memory, homeostasis and decision making.

Researchers have previously examined the role of CB1 receptors and discovered they play a key role in anxiety. They found deficiencies in natural cannabinoids result in an increased risk for the development of post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression. Supplementing this signaling system with low-doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – one of the active compounds in medical marijuana – helped to reduced symptoms of anxiety and increase patients resilience to stress (3).

Evidence For Medical Marijuana Relieving Anxiety

The interactions between the endocannabinoids system and anxiety disorders are not fully understood. More research is needed into whether medical marijuana is a suitable treatment for anxiety disorders.

During a recent study of 72 adults at a large mental health clinic in Colorado, researchers administered 25mg of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD in the participants. The researchers found that 79.2 percent of the participants reported improvements in their symptoms of stress and anxiety (4).

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric response to traumatic events. Evidence is mounting that cannabinoids might play a role in helping to decrease fear in people with this anxiety disorder, as well as have antidepressant effects (5). Some studies have reported a greater than 75 percent reduction of symptom scores following medical marijuana therapy (6).

Best Marijuana Strains For Anxiety

To properly treat anxiety, it’s important to use a medical marijuana strain with an appropriate ratio of CBD to THC. Although cannabis can decrease anxiety, in some people, excess THC consumption can exacerbate it due to the psychoactive effects of the plant.

THC is the compound which gives the psychoactive effect cannabis is most well known for. Consumed alone or in a higher ratio to CBD, THC can trigger the area of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, which can induce fear and anxiety.

CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, meaning a user does not experience a “high” or any onset of euphoria after ingestion. CBD works antagonistically with THC, diminishing its psychoactive effects. In this sense, opting for strains with a higher or equal ratio of CBD to THC helps alleviate any anxiety giving properties of THC. CBD also has antipsychotic properties.


Medical marijuana has the potential for treating symptoms of anxiety. However, more research is needed in the area. The strain that works best will depend on the person using it. According to most anecdotes and scientific reports, CBD heavy strains tend to be best for reducing anxiety. Further research exploring the relationship between THC and CBD ratios is important so that doctors are able to effectively prescribe different strains to patients based on their needs.

Medical Marijuana and Chronic Pain

Can Medical Marijuana Help To Reduce Chronic Pain?

note: The Sanctuary Wellness Institute does not sell any marijuana products or CBD products

The Sanctuary Wellness Institute medical marijuana cards evaluations at 5 locations in Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Newtown Bucks County, Chester Springs, Lancaster and Camp Hill, PA

The medical marijuana industry is growing across the world. More than twenty-six countries and thirty-six American states have already legalized medical marijuana. As this trend continues, questions regarding its efficacy as a medicine arise.

As legalization for medicinal use continues to spread, researchers are also expanding their research on the cannabis plant. Clinical evidence has revealed chemicals naturally found in marijuana such as cannabidiol (CBD), and the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can provide relief to patients suffering from chronic pain. In fact, the most common medicinal use of medical marijuana in the United States is for chronic pain. Globally, it is estimated that chronic pain currently affects more than 1.5 billion people. Every single year ten percent of the population are newly diagnosed with chronic pain

Globally, it is estimated that chronic pain currently affects more than 1.5 billion people. Every single year ten percent of the population are newly diagnosed with chronic pain.

A survey carried out between 1990 and 2013 by the Global Burden of Disease Study placed conditions associated with chronic pain among the top contributors to years lived with disability globally.

What Is Chronic Pain?

In retrospect to acute pain which simply warns us of disease or injury, chronic or persistent pain serves no adaptive purpose. The International Association for the Study of Pain states there is no biological purpose to chronic pain, as it will persist past normal tissue healing .

Typical Treatment for Chronic Pain

Mild chronic pain is usually treated with over the counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients with more severe chronic pain are prescribed opiates.

While this medication is effective at providing those suffering from chronic pain with relief, stronger medications such as opioids are also highly addictive and come with many negative side effects including dependence, an increased risk of heart disease, overdose risk and liver damage .

It’s no wonder that patients and medical professionals are turning to medical marijuana as a solution. Not only is medical marijuana effective, but it is also far safer for patients.

The Endocannabinoid System And Chronic Pain Relief

Medical marijuana’s efficacy as a pain killer is due to how it affects the endocannabinoid system, which plays a direct role in the regulation of pain.

The endocannabinoid system is comprised of endocannabinoids, and the receptors these chemicals bind to. These receptors are found throughout the body, in our organs, brain, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. The endocannabinoid system works on regulating homeostasis, or in simple terms, maintaining a stable internal environment.

Endocannabinoids are at the intersection of the human body’s various systems, allowing the coordination and communication between different cell types. As an example, at the site of injury, endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are found stabilizing the nerve by decreasing sensitizers and activators from the injured tissue to prevent excessive firing (which would cause pain). Endocannabinoids also calm nearby immune cells which prevent inflammatory compounds from being released.

These mechanisms could help explain why ingesting medical grade marijuana helps to alleviate chronic pain. During pain, nerves are firing unnecessarily, coupled with excessive inflammation which damages healthy cells. The cannabinoids found in medical marijuana resemble those produced by our body, and so may help the body maintain homeostasis and thereby relieve pain .

Clinical Evidence for Medical Marijuana Relieving Chronic Pain

Current evidence for medical marijuana decreasing chronic pain is strong. A study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed 28 randomized clinical trials. The researchers discovered patients experienced significant improvements in every pain-related study, and stated that the “use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence”. A research paper exploring the effects of medical marijuana on cancer pain discovered a 64 percent reduction in the use of opioids for pain .

Despite the plethora of evidence supporting marijuana for chronic pain, there is limited research surrounding strain specific recommendation for chronic pain. But we do have anecdotal evidence from surveys.

Best Marijuana Strains for Chronic Pain

There are three classifications of marijuana strains:

  • Cannabis indica
  • Cannabis sativa
  • Hybrids

An online survey featured in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicines found participants opted for indica strains for the management of pain, primary due to its sedentary effects which aided in promoting sleep .

In regards to pain management, those who completed the survey reported significant improvements when using indica varieties for:

  • Neuropathy
  • Joint pain
  • Spasticity
  • Non-migraine headaches

One of the two primary cannabinoids in marijuana – cannabidiol (CBD) – is non-psychoactive, meaning there is no euphoria or “high” after ingestion. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive cannabinoid) – attaches to receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the brain, producing a psychoactive effect. CBD instead affects CB2 receptors throughout the body, which helps to decrease inflammation and inflammatory-related pain .


Medical marijuana is clearly beneficial for people suffering from chronic pain. Which type of medical marijuana product is best for pain is subjective to the individual. However, based on the evidence, surveys indicate that CBD is likely best for inflammatory pain, as well as indica strains of cannabis which tend to be more sedative and beneficial for pain relief.

The Sanctuary Wellness Institute is committed to advocating for medical marijuana patients. We have 5 locations; Philadelphia, Newtown, Chester Springs, Lancaster and Camp Hill, PA