Posted on Feb 03, 2017, 6 a.m.
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers a rigorous review of scientific research published since 1999 and based on more than 10,000 scientific abstracts
Recent statistics estimate that more than 22 million Americans have used cannabis in the last 30 days. Currently, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Of concern is the lack of conclusive evidence of the effects of use of cannabis and marijuana.
In an effort to provide accurate information in the ongoing debate about the use of cannabis in the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has conducted a study of the current research performed since 1999. Ten thousand abstracts were reviewed and the committee offered 100 conclusions. Here are the results of their findings.
Some of the research reviewed indicated the following therapeutic effects:
- A significant reduction of the symptoms of chronic pain in adults.
- Relief of muscle spasms in adults with multiple sclerosis
- A reduction of nausea and vomiting in adults undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
- For those with schizophrenia and other psychoses, better performance on learning and memory tasks.
Additional research reviewed indicated the following risks:
- An increased risk of being involved in a vehicular accident following the use of cannabis
- Increased risk of unintentional cannabis overdose injuries among children in states where legalized.
- Lower birth weights in infants of using parents
- An increase in psychological problems including, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
- Increased respiratory problems including coughing, phlegm production and chronic bronchitis
- Increased learning, memory and attention span attention difficulties, especially in children and young adults
- An increased rate of unemployment and low income in users
- A positive correlation between the use of cannabis and problems related to it
- An increase in the likelihood of developing other substance abuse problems
More research is needed in several areas in the study of the effects of cannabis, including:
- Cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes
- Serious respiratory diseases such as asthma, and chronic pulmonary disease
- The effects of cannabis on the human immune system
- The effects on fetuses and infants
As a final note in its report the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee commented on the challenges faced in studying the beneficial and harmful effects of the use of cannabis and marijuana. Adequate funding is an issue, as well as the fact that cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance, which makes it difficult to obtain consistent, reliable amounts to use in their research. More research is still needed to provide conclusive information about the effects of marijuana and cannabis use.
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Copies of The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research are available from the National Academies Press at http://www.nap.edu or by calling 1-800-624-6242. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE
Health and Medicine Division
Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice
Committee of the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda