Zachary Walsh, clinicial psychologist, is a researcher whose research focuses on who uses drugs, why they use them, and what the effects are on the mental health of these users. Articulate and engaging, Walsh is exceptionally adept at communicating the nuances which are so often overlooked when cannabis use is concerned.
Taking what could be described as an anthropological approach to his study of cannabis use over history, Walsh views the bigger picture when it comes to the relationship between human beings and the cannabis plant. He discusses how little over one hundred years ago, cannabis was being used by Queen Victoria for medical purposes, and how it wasn’t until the 1930’s and the creation of the term “marijuana” that attitudes towards cannabis began to sour.
In this video, Dr. Walsh talks about a study he conducted which examined 600 medical cannabis users. These were people with chronic conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. What he and his team found was that people were using cannabis for three main reasons; to improve sleep, to reduce pain and to decrease anxiety.
In a follow-up study, he found that people who used cannabis to treat pain and anxiety together were not only more capable of going about their day to day tasks successfully, but also were not as focused on their pain. Not only did this improve their physical health, but it also had a beneficial effect on their mental health.
This ability of cannabis to improve the health and wellness of both the body and mind simultaneously is something which cannabis advocates have been citing as the biggest reason to legalize the drug for many years.
Another study which Walsh conducted into the use of cannabis by college students examined the effects of the drug on people who suffered from anxiety, but not pain. The results of this study suggested that those who use cannabis two or more times throughout the average week typically experienced significantly less anxiety than non-users.
In this video, Walsh discusses these studies, their findings and what he believes they mean for the future of human psychology. In his opinion, making peace with cannabis after decades of tension could have a positive impact on the collective mental health of people today. Furthermore, this could open up a world of opportunity when it comes to taking advantage of ancient plant medicines for psychotherapy and the treatment of mental illness today.