After a review of more than 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles, The National Academies of Science (NAS) has concluded that marijuana use is related to several health problems, including:
– mental health problems, such as suicidal thought, psychosis and social anxiety (“There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risk among the most frequent users,” the report states.);
– progression to dependence on other drugs, including cocaine and heroin;
– problems with learning, memory and attention;
– respiratory ailments;
– low birth weight.
The NAS report’s authors also noted that “in states where cannabis use is legal, there is increased risk of unintentional cannabis overdose injuries among children.”
The report, titled Health Effects of Cannabis and CannabinoidsCurrent State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research strongly underscores that much more research is needed about marijuana’s health effects — implicitly calling into question highly publicized claims that the drug is a cure for everything from cancer and epilepsy to dry skin and morning sickness. The study’s authors made four primary recommendations:
– development of a “national cannabis research agenda that addresses key gaps in the evidence base;”
– development of a “set of research standards and benchmarks to guide and ensure the production of high-quality cannabis research;”
– increases in public funding and support for “improvements to federal public health surveillance systems and state-based public health surveillance efforts.”
– the creation of an “objective and evidence-based report that fully characterizes the impacts of regulatory barriers to cannabis research and that proposes strategies for supporting development of the resources and infrastructure necessary to conduct a comprehensive cannabis research agenda.”
In calling for better data collection about marijuana’s impact on health, new research and careful oversight, the NAS essentially rejected marijuana industry-funded ballot initiatives, which permit use of the drug without oversight of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“This report is a wake-up call to all Americans who have been sold the false promise that marijuana use is not harmful across multiple health outcomes,” said Kevin A. Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the White House. “It confirms that although more research is badly needed, tens of thousands of peer-reviewed articles tell us today that marijuana use can produce serious health and social problems. We should be doing everything we can to stop the marijuana industry from continuing to deceive the public the same way Big Tobacco did for a century.”