Football player Ricky Williams' contention that he uses marijuana to help overcome his social-anxiety disorder has put a new spotlight on medical uses of the drug.
The Miami Herald reported July 30 that experts say that Williams' reliance on marijuana to fight anxiety could be valid, but that scientists are far from ready to unveil pot-based drugs to fight such disorder. Williams, notoriously shy, recently quit the Miami Dolphins, in part because he did not want to give up his marijuana use.
Researchers conducting animal experiments have found that cannabinoids, such as those found in marijuana, can decrease anxiety. But a cannabinoid-based drug is seen as being at least 10 years from hitting the market. The illegal nature of marijuana and the difficulty in getting the drug for use in experiments has slowed research into cannabinoids.
''One of the reasons humans use marijuana is because it reduces anxiety,'' said Cecilia Hillard, a pharmacology professor from the Medical College of Wisconsin. “On the other hand, the reason most often cited for stopping using marijuana is that it causes anxiety.''
''Cannabis is not a very good medicine,'' said Daniele Piomelli, a scientist who is developing a cannabinoid-based drug.