For a drug that has been used by our ancestors for over 10,000 years for medicinal and recreational purposes, it is ironic that the consumption of marijuana has been an ongoing debate in the 21st century. In fact, the Indian commission reports, such as the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1893/94, have contributed to the ban in the past pan India and the rest of the world.
However, the change in attitude towards legalising marijuana in the US over the past few years has been overwhelming. The last fall itself has seen around 57 per cent of adults in the US alone leaning towards the legalisation of marijuana, with only 37 percent taking an opposing view.
There is, however, still a more pertinent question: has science given marijuana a clean chit for it to be used judicially?
Although, there is still a lot that we do not know about marijuana, a massive report by the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has summed up some of the most up-to-date findings on the infamous cannabis.
The research committee involved took into consideration more than 10,000 studies to draw up almost a 100 conclusions. Although the report does reveal how much we are yet to learn about the drug, is encouraging to see how much we have already discerned.
The language in the study is indicative of the how much we know for certain and how much there is yet to know about cannabis. For instance, terms like ‘limited evidence’ means that although there is relevant evidence to support this claim, there is still a level of uncertainty. Whereas, ‘conclusive evidence’ there is enough data to support a claim. There is also insufficient data to make a positive or negative claim about cannabis in several circumstances.
1.The fact that medical marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain is conclusively backed up by the report and is also the most common reason why people requested for it.
2. The report also claimed that marijuana could be conclusively used to treat muscle spasms related to multiple sclerosis and to inhibit nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Although there’s evidence that marijuana increased the risk of road accidents, there are reports that indicate a decrease in the number of crashes after the introduction of medical marijuana that was taken with proper precaution.
4. There is also a reasonable amount of evidence that highlights the risk of consumption of marijuana by children accidentally in places where marijuana has been legalised. There is, however, a higher chance of the parents calling for poison control because of an accidental consumption of crayons or other such toxins by kids.
5. The report highlighted that there are moderate levels of evidence that substantiates the fact that marijuana was not related to an increased risk of lung cancer. However, there a limited number of reports that indicate frequent consumption could be associated with a certain type of testicular cancer.
6. Evidence to establish the relationship between marijuana and heart-related ailments were conflicting. Although there is a limited amount of proof to support the claim that marijuana can potentially increase the risk of a heart attack, there is an equal amount of lack of evidence to prove that smoking marijuana can trigger a trigger a heart attack.
7. There is substantial evidence to claim that regular use of marijuana could potentially increase your chances of developing bronchitis and stopping consumption can lower your chances. There is, however, a limited amount of evidence to claim that marijuana can cause respiratory illnesses, such as asthma.
8. There’s a limited amount of evidence to substantiate the claim that marijuana has anti-inflammatory effects.
9. There is conclusive evidence highlighting the link between prenatal exposure to marijuana and your birth weight, and limited evidence to suggest that it could escalate pregnancy complications.
10. A conclusive amount of evidence indicates an increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia among regular users of marijuana.
11. There is also a moderate level of evidence citing a link between marijuana consumption and an increase in the risk of developing social anxiety disorders and falling into depression.
12. There is limited evidence to substantiate that consuming marijuana during your adolescence, especially for those who begin smoking at a very early age, could impair your academic endeavours.
13. One of the most significant findings of the study and apt conclusion for the report was to highlight that fact that just saying that marijuana could be connected to a certain condition or risk does not necessarily mean it caused it in the first place.
Researching marijuana has been and is still quite a challenge. It is become increasingly difficult to determine how policymakers can support its legalisation without continuing research.
Ideally, policymakers need to get together with the medical practitioners and scientists to understand what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be studied more. Moreover, although this research illustrates how much we know already, it also points out how much more we need to learn, states Krista Lisdahl, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee to Business Insider in an interview.
At the end of the day the idea behind researching marijuana is to arrive at the truth, not really discern between the good or the bad, claims Staci Gruber an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, in an interview with Business Insider.