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Kelowna professor to speak on benefits of cannabis

A UBCO professor is hosting a public forum in Kelowna for speak on the role cannabis could play in improving mental health and fighting addictions.

According to Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology of UBC’s Okanagan campus, marijuana could help treat depression, PTSD and social anxiety. Walsh also said it could help some alcoholics and people addicted to opioids kick their habits.

To date, cannabis research has focused mainly on problematic use and subsequent negative mental health outcomes. However, Walsh and his colleagues recently released a comprehensive review of cannabis and mental health and found that for some individual’s, cannabis may have potential for mental health treatment.

At the talk, Walsh will discuss why he thinks cannabis should be subject to the same risk-versus-benefit evaluations as other medications.

“In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” said Walsh. “There is currently not a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes.

<who> Photo Credit: UBCO. </who> Zach Walsh.

“With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option, so knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”

With legalization of marijuana possible as early as next year in Canada, Walsh says it’s important to help mental health professionals better understand the risk and benefits of cannabis.

Walsh's event will be at the UBCO, in Fipke 204, on January 24th, 2017. It will run from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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