American Medical Association Publishes Op-Ed on Lack of Adequate Cannabis Research

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The peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, this week published an opinion piece addressing inadequate methodology involved in cannabis research, especially in placebo-controlled or “double-blind” trials.

Titled, “The Achilles Heel of Medical Cannabis Research—Inadequate Blinding of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” the op-ed was authored by Dr. David Casarett, of Duke University School of Medicine. In it, Dr. Casarett argues that data from blinded, placebo-controlled studies of medical cannabis efficacy is likely to be skewed because subjects that receive active medication can tell that THC is affecting them.


The doctor reasoned that recognizing the effects of cannabis might influence these subjects to exaggerate their responses, in regards to any beneficial or adverse affects. Casarett goes on to suggest four possible solutions to arrive at more accurate data, when conducting human trials for medical marijuana.

Dr. Casarett is a palliative care physician with a lively interest in medical marijuana. His 2015 book, “Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana,” is documentation of his experiences researching a broad scope of topics. The book’s synopsis describes as, “palliative care physician Dr. David Casarett sets out to do anything—including experimenting on himself—to find evidence of marijuana’s medical potential. He smears mysterious marijuana paste on his legs and samples pot wine. He poses as a patient at a seedy California clinic and takes lessons from an artisanal hash maker. In conversations with researchers, doctors, and patients around the world he learns how marijuana works—and doesn’t—in the real world.”

A proponent of marijuana research and removing cannabis from the list of federal Schedule 1 drugs, Dr. Casarett has also spoken extensively on the topic of medical marijuana research, including for Ted Talks.