Marijuana just one element of mental health treatment, users say

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WATCH ABOVE: The federal government says they're committed to further research into the potential risks and benefits of medical marijuana, but when it comes to addressing mental health issues some are saying weed shouldn't be the be all end all. Global's Jeremy Keefe reports – Jan 23, 2017

Mental health sufferers touting the benefits of medical marijuana say the plant isn’t the only treatment the government should provide for cases of anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Federal government commitments to further research into the benefits and risks associated with marijuana are welcome news to advocates and users alike, but some are saying more avenues need to be looked at to properly address mental health issues.

READ MORE: Government to cut how much medical marijuana veterans can get for free

“Medication only goes so far,” explained Tara McCarron, a medical marijuana user. “You need to learn how to cope because no matter what, your mental health issue isn’t going to be cured.”

“A pill isn’t going to be that only solution, marijuana isn’t the only solution,” she said.

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McCarron recalls her life before beginning marijuana treatment and accessing peer support groups hosted by Marijuana for Trauma.

Her anxiety and depression kept her from leaving her house often, which she said made her feel worse, and made holding down a job impossible.

“I kind of always felt judged and everybody kind of hated me,” she explained. “Now I can actually communicate with people and talk to people and understand and take constructive criticism as that instead of as someone attacking me.”

McCarron doesn’t believe marijuana would work for everyone but thinks speaking with others going through similar situations would be beneficial for all.

READ MORE: Canada’s pot laws must consider risks to mental health: expert

“To be in a group where everybody kind of suffers from the same kind of symptoms as you, you feel comfortable,” she said. “They understand what you’re going through whereas when you go to a group of people that don’t suffer the same way, they don’t understand.”

Hank Merchant has talked to hundreds of medical marijuana users since opening several dispensaries over the past few months.

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A veteran and PTSD sufferer himself, he says he knows firsthand how talking to like-minded individuals provides an incredible amount of support that can’t be found in a pill.

He believes the government should look to programs like Alcoholics Anonymous for their approach to treating PTSD and anxiety rather than prescription medication.

“If you have one PTSD sufferer, one anxiety sufferer in a family,” he explained. “It affects the whole family, it’s not just that one person.”

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