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Feb-28-2008 17:02printcomments

Depression: Medical Marijuana is a Successful Therapy

Phillip Leveque has spent his life as a Combat Infantryman, Physician, Toxicologist and Pharmacologist. He has experience with 4,000 medical marijuana patients.

LanceCorporal Willliam A Staley
People like these combat soldiers in Afghanistan may face many challenges with depression in the future, but laws prevent doctors from prescribing what is probably the best medicine known to man, cannabis, or marijuana. Photo by Tim King Salem-News.com

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - The Merck manual includes Depression in Psychiatric and Mood disorders in which anxiety and PTSD are also included. They show several pages of the why and wherefores so I'm not going into a psychiatric tirade.

I do feel there is an extensive overlap in all of these psychiatric conditions and I hope my point will become clear to the reader.

The Oregon Medical Marijuana Plan, (OMMP) did not include any psychological medical conditions which I felt was a sad mistake. If a patient tells a doctor that marijuana works for ANY condition, it is best if the doctor listens and pays attention.

The old crap, "It's all in your head" is certainly active here.

Very few doctors have been recipients of an artillery or mortar barrage. It would alter their conception. At any rate, all of the above conditions are real AND in some patient's heads. The worst thing is they are difficult to dislodge and get over.

As far as depression itself is concerned, it seemingly was first noted by Doctor Tod Mikuriya who reviewed medical records of about 38,000 marijuana patients at the Oakland, California Cannabis Buyers Club database. He found that many interrelated psychiatric conditions according to patient's histories, were ameliorated with cannabis/marijuana.

He also found that VA doctors were treating these patients with a wild grabbag of psycotropic medications. (See Friedman, M.J. et al April 2006 American Journal of Psychiatry.)

Subsequent medical articles have indicated the abject failure of these medications. These include Serotonin, contraband drugs like Paroxetine, anti-depressants like Trazadone, MADIS like Phenetzine, Tricyclies like Amitriptyline, anti-analgesics like Propanalol, anti-convulsants like Gabapentin and anti-psychotics like Respiridone, Respiridone. I am flummoxed and wonder the rationale of these. They all have well-known BAD adverse side effects.

Early in my practice with marijuana applicants, I learned that Vietnam Veterans had discovered this herb while fighting the war. They told me that cannabis/marijuana worked well for psychic as well as physical medical problems.

Both Dr. Tod Mikuriya and Ed Glick R.N. found in history taking and reviewing medical marijuana and records that marijuana provided effective treatment. I ended up with at least 400 PTSD veterans who fortunately had other acceptable physical ailments so that I could help them get marijuana permits.

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Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
Email him: Newsroom@Salem-News.com

More information on the history of Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of Phil Leveque about his experiences in WWII.
Order the book by mail by following this link: Dogface Soldier.
If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Watch for more streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King Dr. Phil Leveque.

Click on this link for other articles and video segments about PTSD and medical marijuana on Salem-News.com: Dr. Leveque INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES




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Joey January 17, 2011 9:48 am (Pacific time)

The truth! Marijuana will never cause "side effects" such as hallucinations, where a simple prescribe drug will. IE. Celexa is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by restoring the balance of serotonin, a natural occuring substance found in the brain, which helps to improve certain mood problems. WARNING: You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment with Celexa. Fact speak for themselves. Marijuana benefits without these horrible side effects!


Ted April 27, 2010 1:21 pm (Pacific time)

It does help depression and anxiety. The problem is it is illegal. Who knows why. There are also legal cannabinoids which are legal such as http://www.herbavigor.com/html/cannibinoids.html One thing about depression is that it has something to do with the brains ability to withstand pain. Cannabis helps raise the tolerance of the body to pain.


ted April 27, 2010 1:23 pm (Pacific time)

It does help depression and anxiety. The problem is it is illegal. Who knows why. There are also legal cannabinoids which are legal such as http://www.herbavigor.com/html/cannibinoids.html One thing about depression is that it has something to do with the brains ability to withstand pain. Cannabis helps raise the tolerance of the body to pain.


anonymous April 25, 2009 2:06 am (Pacific time)

thank you for this doc. my father does not smoke marijuana, but does talk about how much it helped him in vietnam, I think there is truth to what you are saying. it actually does work for my depression and anxiety (which i had far back into childhood). the only thing i feel anxious or upset about is getting caught, and i only withdraw from society to avoid prison. many people think there is something wrong with me, when really im just being safe. people make hurtful comments and disrespect marijuana users, but they don't understand what it feels like. if the government banned medications from aspirin to xanax or forbid all, closed liquor stores down, you people would lose it.


Anonymous January 5, 2009 3:39 pm (Pacific time)

I've lived with major depression and melancholia all of my life. I've tried nearly every kind of counseling, pharmaceutical and herbal therapy (short of ECT). I obtained marginal results at best with *most* of these. Over the decades I've learned to muddle through the bad times at wait them out like a stormy day. Every so many years I experience the Melancholia which is like being buried alive with depression. It's painful. It's an acute pain as if you're waiting for the endorphins to kick in but it isn't a fall or an injury. Sure there are treatments which will help, with time. And honestly, time is the only thing that's sure to resolve melancholia. But in Melancholia one day is like a week, a week like a month. When I realize I've exhausted my coping mechanisms I obtain marijuana and smoke it very responsibly over the period of a week. The heaviness eases and with less stress I sleep through the night. My appetite returns. I want to come out of my hole again. And the darkest hour starts to become history as I find strength in just letting go of the anxiety and stress. I'm not saying nor do I believe marijuana is a cure. For me it's a patch, like a band-aid. It won't cure me and it won't stop the depression but it IS a catalyst to get me back out there... walking, socializing, realizing what I'm missing. I then stop using it and resume my normal activities. I *strongly agree* that I need certain strains and that certain people with addictive tendencies should never touch it. It's not a lifestyle but rather a very effective, safe and non-addictive short-term medication compared to what doctors are currently prescribing.


travis May 4, 2008 8:34 am (Pacific time)

I am in total agreement with one earlier writer-- marijuana can really help with depression and/or anxiety but IT HAS TO BE THE RIGHT STRAIN...THE WRONG HYBRID OR STRAIN CAN MAKE DEPRESSION AND ESPCIALLY ANXIETY MUCH WORSE...THIS IS WHY MORE RESEARCH NEEDS TO BE DONE (AS IT IS IN CANADA) ON SPECIFIC STRAINS THAT HELP DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY...BE CAREFUL


Chochol April 27, 2008 11:52 am (Pacific time)

So I looked it up. In countries that sell marijuana cigarettes, people will buy 1 cigarette to 10 marijuana cigarettes and they won't chainsmoke them like a cigarette smoker. Also since the tar is in the leaves and stock, the chance of lung cancer is hugely diminished! All in all, those that misuse this wonderful herb are the reason we don't have it medically and why it has a bad name. Responsibility and understanding is the only way it will ever become freely used. Most things u can get at a store and get high off of (highschool kids) are very dangerous, and guess what they do it cause they shouldn't. In places where it is a normal thing the misuse of the drug is practically unheard of.


Tom April 8, 2008 11:45 pm (Pacific time)

Hey everyone, I am a college student and I suffer from depression and anxiety disorder. After many personal experiments with the effects of marijuana, I believe that it is by far the best treatment method. Much better than addictive pills such as Xanax. I also find that you need to obtain the correct strain for you, some strains do nothing for my symptoms, sometimes make them worse, but there is nothing like SP15 or Blueberry which energize while taking away my anxiety and depression. Note to all: Marijuana is very different strain to strain. Find one that works with you!


Me March 4, 2008 4:26 pm (Pacific time)

I do think marijuana should be legal, as it is more trouble being a controlled (*ahem* uncontrolled) substance then when it is not. I'm from Canada and it is kinda, almost, legal up here. I think if legalized (more controlled) it could do alot of good. I'd like to see people having to buy pot at a government run storefront where we can prevent people making money off of it that shouldn't, and children from smoking it too early. This is a comfortable idea for me because I'm used to having a liquor control board and government run business for the sale of alcohol. I don't think Mothers and Fathers should be going to Jail for smoking pot. I'm sure there are many medical conditions where pot would be effective. My brother has fibrous dysplasia for instance. I'm sure he finds it relieving of the stress and the physical pain he has in result of the disease. He regularly smokes. I hope in the future we don't have to have such stupid discussions about whether pot should be legalized. I know it does have benefits to some and it isn't such a threat to society, to be criminalized. I only made my previous post in order to also encourage other people to be more comfortable in some of the already established medicines for depression. I myself have gone untreated for almost 20 years and I am very happy with the results now that I am. When taking these meds as a teenager they have more of an negative effect than as an adult. Part of what held me back from taking meds was the stigma around antidepressants. The point is, don't feel bad about the fact that you tend to feel bad. Accept that it is your nature and be open to treatments. Of all the drugs you could take, maybe only one will work. When it does work though, it is extremely relieving. If anything should be criminalized it should be tobacco. I've been trying to kick that habit for 13 years.


Me March 4, 2008 3:32 pm (Pacific time)

I do suffer from depression. When I smoke pot it makes me over analyze everything. The end result is me being more depressed than without it. It took me a long time to realize this when I was addicted to smoking pot. But one night I finally realized the reason I was lying in bed talking to myself and beating up on myself over the most mundane things was because of the pot I was smoking everyday. My depression has become much more controllable, now that I don't smoke pot, and I'm taking wellbutrin XL. My depression hasn't gone away but I've seen improvements. If I just smoked a joint I wouldn't even be able to talk to you, let alone look you in the eye. I find I get "too smart" when I smoke pot and that leads to me getting down on myself over the smallest little things. Like over something as small as a conversation I'd had, which I wouldn't even have reason to second guess without being in this altered state. While taking Wellbutrin I've found I've been more calm, had more energy and will to take on the day, I have less adhd like symptoms(trouble concentrating), more confidence, and a better relationship with my girl(mostly because I'm less neurotic).

My suggestion would be to see how you personally react to pot before you just dive into using alot of it. Your dose of THC is not easily controlled so it's not like you can smoke a joint and go drive a bus full of children even if it makes you less depressed. Anti depressants have less of an effect on your mental state than smoking your average joint. Then again this is just my experience.

Editor to Me: Thanks for sharing your story and underscoring the fact that marijuana is not for everyone, and as much as it may be on a roll politically, it is still a mind altering substance that does not bring the same results to every person who uses it. In some cases like this one, other medicines may work better, and those who can be completely free of any substance are living a very free life indeed. We are in a position in Oregon where medical marijuana is legal and the citizens who choose to use it have few places to go to learn what is good and bad about it. I fear that people think we are head over heels for pot because of the frequent coverage but that isn't it; the truth is nobody else is doing it, and that we have the resources to do so with Dr. Leveque aboard. Thanks again for sharing your story with us and for reminding our viewers that marijuana is not always the answer, just some of the time for some people.


Hugo March 3, 2008 5:28 pm (Pacific time)

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter - not a medication, Paroxetine is an SSRI - it isn't contraband, and PropanOlol is a beta-blocker. Psych-meds certainly have side-effects, and I have no doubt that marijuana has helped many patients, and I believe it should be legalised for prescription for medical use. However, marijuana has also been linked to the precipitation or exacerbation of psychosis in many cases - don't you feel this is worth mentioning?


Anonymous March 3, 2008 9:50 am (Pacific time)

I have been following this marijuana series and I just wonder if the evidence is so strong how come the Veterans Administration not start using it in their treatment program? Do they even have a pilot study going on? Or is this so radioactive the politicans do not want to associate themselves with it? Once again, if the clinical evidence is there, what's going on? Who do we contact?

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