Get started today

Medicinal Cannabis & Depression: The Science

Presented by Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD. This learning module is suitable for healthcare practitioners with an interest in learning about medicinal cannabis. 

About this module:

Depression (also called major depressive disorder) is a common reason that many people use cannabis for. In this presentation, Professor Kylie O’Brien explores what depression is, the many underpinning pathomechanisms and the evidence of involvement of the endocannabinoid system. She presents both preclinical research and human studies that have investigated potential mechanisms of action and efficacy of medicinal cannabis, CBD and THC in depression. She also examines various studies that suggest that cannabis use may be associated with depression. This is a deep dive into the scientific evidence base of medicinal cannabis and depression. 

This presentation is suitable for healthcare practitioners and those with a background in biomedical sciences. It assumes a knowledge of the endocannabinoid system and medicinal cannabis pharmacodynamics.
Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe what depression is, its prevalence and comorbidities.
  • Explain the various pathomechanisms understood to occur in depression, including how the endocannabinoid system may be involved. 
  • Debate the level of scientific evidence for the use of cannabis and THC in the treatment of depression.
  • Rationalise the use of CBD (or not) in the treatment of depression, based on an understanding of its mechanisms of action and research evidence of efficacy.
  • Debate whether cannabis use is associated with depression. 

Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD

Professor Kylie O’Brien PhD is an Adjunct Professor at Torrens University. She has a strong academic career in the fields of Chinese medicine, integrative medicine, and, since 2018, in medicinal cannabis. She has worked for the Victorian Department of Human Services, and held senior leadership roles in the university and private education sector. An internationally recognised expert in Chinese medicine and integrative medicine, she has published extensively, including a book on integrative oncology (US: Springer, 2017). Kylie’s second book, with co-author Dr Philip Blair, O’Brien K, Blair P, Medicinal Cannabis and CBD in Mental Healthcare, Springer, 2021 has now been published (Springer). She is a member of the Australian government’s Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Expert Panel and a previous member of the TGA Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines.

Kylie has been leading doctor education on medicinal cannabis in Australia since 2018. Her courses were the first to receive RACGP Category 1 CPD accreditation. She also set up the pathway via the National Institute of Integrative Medicine Ethics Committee for doctors to apply to become authorised prescribers of medicinal cannabis under the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
Created with