Article by Beth Mole, Ars Technica
In a new 400-page analysis that blows through the current state of scientific knowledge on the health risks and benefits of marijuana, one of the strongest conclusions is that it can effectively treat chronic pain in some patients.
The sweeping report, released Thursday by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, covered more than 10,000 scientific studies and came to nearly 100 other conclusions. Those mostly highlight unanswered questions and insufficient research related to health effects of marijuana, as well as several risks. However, the firm verification that marijuana does have legitimate medical uses—supported by high-quality scientific studies—is a significant takeaway in light of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision in August to maintain marijuana’s listing as a Schedule I drug. That is, a drug that has no medical use.
The new report also strongly concludes that the Schedule I listing creates significant administrative barriers for researchers wishing to conduct health research on marijuana and its components—an issue Ars has previously reported on.
“It is often difficult for researchers to gain access to the quantity, quality, and type of cannabis product necessary to address specific research questions on the health effects of cannabis use,” concluded the authors, a panel of experts led by Marie McCormick, a pediatrician and public health researcher at Harvard.
In a public presentation of their findings, the report’s authors repeatedly refused to comment on the DEA’s scheduling of marijuana, noting that the issue was outside the scope of their scientific review.