Looking to the Future of Research Assessing Efficacy of Cannabis in Treatment of OCD

Contemporary Clinic Staff

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Carrie Cuttler, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on the outlook around research investigating cannabis in the treatment of OCD.

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University, on a recent study she co-authored that was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders on the use of cannabis in treating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Alana Hippensteele: What are some, as you're discussing, future research avenues worth pursuing in light of this study on the use of cannabis and treating OCD?

Carrie Cutler: Yeah, well we really need good, well-powered, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of the acute effects of whole plant cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) on OCD systems.

So, the primary limitation of my research is that, since I'm analyzing data from a mathematical cannabis app, Strainprint, I was not able to obtain a placebo-control group. People using this app aren't using placebos.

As such, some of the reductions in the symptoms that people are reporting are likely also due to their expectations of the effects of cannabis on OCD symptoms and may not actually be drug effects per se.

Placebo effects can be pretty large, and so this is a very important limitation to consider. Now, there was one placebo-controlled trial that was published around the time that my paper was under review, and they also found that OCD symptoms were reduced from before to after cannabis use, but the reduction in symptoms was not significantly different than that that was observed after placebo administration, suggesting that reductions were due to a placebo effect and were no greater than that.

However, in that study, they used a very small sample, which would really reduce their power to find significant effects, and, like all clinical trials conducted in the United States, they had to use cannabis from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse drug supply, which is really very low potency, and it's not reflective of the types of high potency cannabis products that people are obtaining from dispensaries.

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