Expectancies for Cannabis-Induced Emotional Breakthrough, Mystical Experiences and Changes in Dysfunctional Attitudes: Perceptions of the Potential for Cannabis-Assisted Psychotherapy for Depression


  • Mitch Earleywine University at Albany, SUNY
  • Maha Noor Mian University at Albany, SUNY
  • Brianna Altman University at Albany, SUNY
  • Joseph De Leo Centre for Compassionate Care, Ontario, Canada


Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has established antidepressant effects. Cannabis users appear to expect high doses administered in a session much like psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to create comparable subjective effects. The current studies explored expectations of antidepressant effects of such cannabis-assisted sessions to replicate and extend previous work. Users not only expected a cannabis-assisted psychotherapy session to decrease depression, but also to alter some of the same mediators of psychedelic or psychological treatments. Over 500 participants in Study I envisioned a cannabis-assisted therapy session akin to those used in psychedelic therapies and reported the effects that they expected on depression as well as relevant subjective reactions. A second sample of over 500 participants responded to identical measures and an index of dysfunctional attitudes that appears to mediate antidepressant effects of psychotherapy. Expectancies of cannabis-induced antidepressant effects covaried with expected psychedelic effects. Participants also envisioned that cannabis-assisted therapy would alter dysfunctional attitudes, which served as a separate, unique path to expected antidepressant effects unrelated to the subjective effects of psychedelics. These results add support to arguments for relevant clinical trials of cannabis-assisted psychotherapy and suggest that cannabis users would expect it to work in ways similar to psychedelics as well as cognitive therapy.






Original Report