Cannabis Health Effects: The Good, The Bad And The Uncertain Consequences

First Posted: Jan 25, 2017 04:00 AM EST

While the medical use of marijuana has been made legal in 28 states as well as the District of Columbia, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine urgently calls for further studies on both of its positive and negative health effects.

Sci-Tech Today reported that the federal advisory panel urges for national effort to go into a deeper study on the effects of cannabis to public health. The report gathered about 100 conclusions on marijuana's health effects based on comprehensive reviews of statistical studies since 1999. However, with the given amount of research, they still appear to fall short in data.

Though there have been studies proving that cannabis use could relieve chronic pain and nausea among adults, particularly those who undergo chemotherapy, some studies suggest that marijuana has also been linked to schizophrenia and other depressive disorders.

There are also varying degrees of evidence that marijuana could ease spasms in multiple sclerosis and muscle stiffness. However, there is still an insufficient amount of evidence on whether it is effective in treating cancers, epilepsy, some Parkinson's disease symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome.

Since the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in eight states, committee head Dr. Marie McCormick of Harvard School of Public Health warns that "there's very little to guide them." According to the report, this lack of information "poses a public health risk." The government has not been helping much on this issue, given the several regulatory laws that limited scientific research.

"This growing acceptance, accessibility, and use of cannabis and its derivatives have raised important public health concerns. Moreover, the lack of any aggregated knowledge of cannabis-related health effects has led to uncertainty about what, if any, are the harms or benefits from its use," Dr. McCormick said in a press release. "As laws and policies continue to change, research must also."

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