The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may believe marijuana is as harmful as heroin, but the science community is backing down on demonizing marijuana.
The National Academy of Sciences released a new report last week that reviewed 10,000 scientific abstracts and reached nearly 100 conclusions that found many medical uses for marijuana and cannabis-derived products. “For years the landscape of marijuana use has been rapidly shifting as more and more states are legalizing cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use,” said Marie McCormick, chair of the committee and is a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA. “”We conducted an in-depth and broad review of the most recent research to establish firmly what the sciences says and to highlight areas that still need further examination.”
The report entitled The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Researchwent on to conclude that “cannabis has both therapeutic value and public health risks.” The report recommends more research and noted that the classification as a Schedule 1 drug impedes research and that researchers can’t get the cannabis they need in order to address specific research needs. They suggest “political and non-political strategies to resolve regulatory barriers to cannabis research, an objective and evidence-based analysis of cannabis policy is necessary.”
In other words, the report suggests rescheduling marijuana in order to determine the benefits, but also the risks of using the product. It’s possible that anti-marijuana groups need to support rescheduling marijuana in order to get the studies they need to prove marijuana can be harmful.
The committee found evidence to support therapeutic uses of cannabis to treat chronic pain in adults. For adults with multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, they said there was substantial evidence that short-term use of certain oral cannabinoids improved symptoms. They also found that cannabinoids helped adults with chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.
The committee covered a wide range of medical situations in some cases noted there was moderate evidence that cannabis was effective for improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and MS.