What Are The Health Benefits And Harms Of Using Cannabis?
With all the people who consume cannabis today, you would think we would know a lot more about what it actually does to your body. Unfortunately, increased cannabis use has not led to very conclusive evidence about long- and short-term health benefits. But a recent report has advanced our understanding of what weed does for human health in some important ways. Published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, this report represents the most up-to-date information on cannabis use and your health.
Most Important Findings
Importantly, the report is a public document that anyone can access to learn more about the science behind cannabis use. The report’s findings highlight cannabis’s effects on many of the most important public health concerns about the drug.
Prior to this 2017 study, the most recent comprehensive look at marijuana and health dates back to 1999. Before that, the last “Marijuana and Health” report was published in 1982.
Clearly, there hasn’t been an update to our knowledge about what cannabis actually does to your body in quite some time. Using a five-point rating system, researchers spell out how much we know about weed and wellness.
Those levels are crucial for dispelling myths about cannabis. They also help cannabis users know what’s true and what isn’t. Here are the rankings for the weight of evidence:
- No or Insufficient
Conclusive Evidence About Cannabis and Health
The report makes some substantial and conclusive claims about cannabis and health. Some of them, people already accept as fact, while others fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Still others prop up long-standing arguments against cannabis use.
One of the latter has to do with the famous “gateway drug” idea. The study does conclude that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing substance dependence (other than cannabis).”
Some of the strongest conclusions, however, came in the domain of the therapeutic effects of cannabis. The report concludes that cannabis is a very effective treatment for adults suffering from nausea and vomiting, like chemotherapy patients, for example.
Another key finding relates to pain. The study found that adults suffering from chronic pain are more likely to experience “a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms” when they treat their pain with cannabis or medical cannabis products.
The study also provides some reassuring data for cannabis smokers concerned about lung health. According to the study, the evidence strongly suggests that for adults smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for particular cancers like lung, head, and neck.
What We Still Don’t Know About Cannabis and Health
In some areas, we’re still completely ignorant about how cannabis relates to health. While this information might not interest some, making sure we know what we don’t know helps avoid marijuana policies which are either too strict or too loose.
For these areas, researchers couldn’t find enough or sufficient evidence to draw a conclusion. We don’t know much about cannabis smoke and pregnancy. The relationship between smoking cannabis during pregnancy and other pregnancy outcomes is still unclear.
So is our knowledge about how cannabis use impacts one’s ability to resist and fight disease.
Furthermore, the evidence is very unclear about how cannabis is or is not associate with heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes. Surprisingly, researchers also don’t know much about cannabis use and asthma or reduced lung function.
That’s why this report is such a bombshell. It presents a far-reaching set of conclusions, based on the most up-to-date evidence. This report should become a go-to resource for anyone trying to figure out the truth about marijuana’s health benefits.