2017 Top Report: The Health Effects of Cannabis

This report is on the best-seller list of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The full title of the report is The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.

This surge in interest is kind of a big deal because it’s obvious people want accurate scientific information about the benefits of cannabis. Plus, of the 323 reports put out by these three academies, this was the only one downloaded most often. And, these academies are federal organizations established 150 years ago. Their jobs? Advise the nation on scientific matters.

As you can imagine, as government organizations, their report suggests being cautious when using cannabis and that more research is needed. But we already knew that.

In 1999, when cannabis was legalized in California, the White House asked the Institute of Medicine arm of the academies to “conduct a systematic review of the scientific evidence pertinent to the health risks and benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids.”

Surprise; the news was cautiously favorable for using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Not what the government expected—or hoped for.

Revisiting the original report, academy researchers also reviewed 10,000 subsequent cannabis articles and reached nearly 100 varying conclusions. Three of those were supported by conclusive evidence that cannabis is beneficial for:

  • Nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy
  • Chronic pain in adults
  • Spasticity in multiple sclerosis

But, there are also roadblocks to studying cannabis, mostly because of the government’s silly classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic, which means it’s difficult to get the right kind of cannabis to study. Also, among other things, the studies need funders, which they don’t have.

The report, press release and a subsequent Leafly article, which takes a pretty deep look at the report, are interesting and worth reading to learn more. Research is vital to finding out what cannabis can do for various medical conditions, but unfortunately, the barriers thwart that possibility. For now.

Although those who already use cannabis will probably not stop, scientific evidence of its value will be the key to making it more widely available so everyone can reap the benefits.