Over 10,000 scientific studies on cannabis use were analyzed to create the largest report on the issue ever in the United States.
The US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a 400-page report that delved into the effects of cannabis use. (A paperback version of the study can be purchased at the National Academies Press website. A PDF version is also available for download or the documents can simply be viewed online.) Here, we give you the TLDR, scratching-the-surface highlights of the hefty report, which was based on consideration of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts:
The report found strong evidence to support cannabis’s efficacy in combating three specific ailments. As many have suspected, it found that cannabis was effective at relieving chronic pain for patients. A reduction in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting was also found for cannabis users. Finally, it demonstrated a link between cannabis use and an easing of symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. Although anecdotal evidence and patient testimonials have claimed these benefits for years, this is the most conclusive scientific evidence to date.
The report does include some drawbacks to cannabis use. There was strong evidence to link bronchial and respiratory issues to long-term cannabis smoking. Studies found that cannabis users could be more likely to develop schizophrenia. Researchers also established a moderate link between cannabis use and anxiety disorders. There was little to no evidence that cannabis could lead to a death by overdose, impair academic performance, or cause a heart attack/stroke.
Although the anti-cannabis community may try to seize on the negative effects, advocates have plenty to be excited about. Cannabis has a several-thousand-year track record of helping a variety medical conditions, well before the U.S. federal government weighed in on the issue, to say the least. Now there is scientific proof supporting at least some of these benefits. The study also shows that decades of propaganda implicating cannabis as a killer drug is simply false.
With 28 states already legalizing the use of medical cannabis and more almost sure to come, actual scientific data will only become more important. This aggregation of past studies is a start, but now that the tipping point has been passed on legalization, it is crucial to understand cannabis enough so that it can be used responsibly.