Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health issues for adults all over the U.S. and the world to deal with. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, more than 40 million adults are dealing with some type of anxiety-related condition. That’s an astounding 18 percent of the population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 30 percent of American adults will experience any anxiety disorders at some time in their lives.
The ongoing global pandemic only added to the already substantial impact that anxiety disorders have on people’s mental health. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders in 2020. All of the added stresses of lost jobs, wages, the months-long lockdown, and social isolation took their toll on people over the past year or so, which might be a key reason why people have been buying more cannabis than ever.
When it comes to medical cannabis, however, anxiety is only an official qualifying condition in a handful of U.S. states. This article is going to break down five states where patients with anxiety conditions qualify for medical cannabis and the rules and regulations surrounding them. Let’s get right into it.
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It should come as no surprise that one of the most innovative and forward-thinking states when it comes to cannabis as medicine.
Not only does the Golden State allow for patients suffering with anxiety to have nearly universal and immediate access to their medicine by allowing home-growing, but they double down by covering a variety of anxiety-based conditions like social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, selective mutism, and separation anxiety.
Unlike many of the other entries on this list, however, California has a thriving, multi-billion dollar recreational industry as well. Even if patients weren’t allowed access to medical cannabis for their anxiety, they could always purchase from the robust options available for recreational consumers.
While many residents of Louisiana might think that anxiety disorders aren’t a qualifying condition to get a medical card of their own, those people would be wrong. But it’s easy to understand why they might have thought that way. Anxiety was actually not included in the original list of qualifying conditions for the state, but as of May 2020, the original medical cannabis bill in the Bayou State was amended so that doctors could hand out medical cards for “any condition” they believe should qualify.
That means while some doctors might not be inclined to give patients a medical card to deal with their anxiety, there’s likely one around who will.
While Louisiana’s medical program is still incredibly small scale compared to some of the other states on this list, with only a little more than 4,000 registered patients and some well-documented growing pains, it’s a great thing that those patients have access to their medicine to deal with their anxiety.
According to the official state website, anxiety is considered an “approved debilitating condition to participate in the medical marijuana program. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy added anxiety to the approved list in 2019 along with conditions like chronic pain, migraines, and Tourette’s syndrome as part of a wide-ranging expansion of the medical cannabis program in the Garden State.
The state of New Jersey also did a great job ensuring patients had access to their medicine while isolated at home by allowing for curbside service, granting additional waivers to the state’s Alternative Treatment Centers, and dropping the price for caregivers from $100 to $20. Measures like that to help patients dealing with issues like anxiety are likely a key reason why the state’s 73,000 patients bought more cannabis than ever during COVID.
Just like their neighbor to the South, Oklahoma allows patients in their program to treat their anxiety with medical cannabis. Those suffering from anxiety disorders have access to clean, green medicine along with conditions like chronic pain, muscle spasms, glaucoma, cancer, and a variety of terminal conditions. Just like Louisiana, Oklahoma’s over 300,000 patients can be certified for medical cannabis by a qualified doctor as long as they are 18 years or older.
And just like some other states on this list, dispensaries in the Sooner State saw a massive spike during the COVID pandemic. Total cannabis sales in Oklahoma surpassed $800 million in 2020, which more than doubled the previous year’s total. The legal medical cannabis industry also created 6,000 new jobs in 2020, bringing that total for the state up to around 17,000. During a year when so many were left unemployed and hurting financially, it’s great to see growth in a sustainable market.
The medical program made some much money last year that, like many other states around the U.S., legislators are licking their chops at the possibility of starting a recreational program. Regardless of a recreational program or not, it’s clear that medical cannabis in Oklahoma is booming.
That’s right dear reader. Those dealing with anxiety-related conditions in the Keystone State qualify for a medical cannabis card of their own! Just like every other entry on this list, anxiety disorders are listed along with conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), cancer, epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), multiple sclerosis (MS), and opioid use disorder on the official state website.
And just like many of the other states on this list, medical patients have been buying a lot of cannabis to cope with stresses and anxiety during the pandemic. Roughly 100,000 new patients have registered for the program since early 2020, which likely contributes to the $789 million in sales by August 2020.
Those sales figures are even more impressive considering that the prices for medical cannabis are high in the state of Pennsylvania. According to NORML, some PA residents spend as much as $1500 per month on their medications alone.
Hopefully, Pennsylvania will be the next northeastern state to legalize recreationally, following their neighbors New Jersey and New York. State officials see the profits from legalization as a way of balancing the budget amid the COVID crisis, and a thriving legal market would drive down the price at the dispensary for medical patients as well.