NORML recently announced that according to a PubMed.gov keyword search, there were more than 4,300 scientific research papers published about cannabis in 2022. In 2021, there were an estimated 4,200 papers published; over the last 12 years, more than 30,000 research papers have now been published; and in total, there are approximately 42,500 scientific papers exploring cannabis.
While it’s common to hear opponents of cannabis state that more research is necessary before legalization can occur, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano released a statement to counter that argument. “Despite claims by some that marijuana has yet to be subject to adequate scientific scrutiny, scientists’ interest in studying cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, as has our understanding of the plant, its active constituents, their mechanisms of action, and their effects on both the user and upon society,” Armentano said. “It is time for politicians and others to stop assessing cannabis through the lens of ‘what we don’t know’ and instead start engaging in evidence-based discussions about marijuana and marijuana reform policies that are indicative of all that we do know.”
NORML compiled numerous scientific studies involving cannabis between 2000-2021, exploring findings from studies on a wide variety of medical conditions such as chronic pain, Huntington Disease, insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so much more. The review analyzes the evolution of researcher’s scope of cannabis. “As clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated so too has investigators’ understanding of cannabis’ remarkable capacity to combat disease,” NORML wrote. “Whereas researchers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s primarily assessed marijuana’s ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms—such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy—scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to modulate disease.”
Even recently, the scientific community has released many intriguing cannabis studies in recent months. One recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that cannabis was an effective treatment for insomnia, with researchers stating that participants experienced an 80% increase in sleep quality, and 60% were no longer classified as clinical insomnias following the end of the two-week study. Another study found evidence that cannabis has “uniquely beneficial effects” on those with bipolar disorder, while one found a link between cannabis consumption and physical activity in HIV+ patients. And there are many more studies underway, such as King’s College London which recently launched a massive 6,000-person study in September, with a goal of publishing early results in 2023 or 2024.
Cannabis is more mainstream than it has ever been before. President Joe Biden’s recent monumental signing of the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act which “establishes a new registration process for conducting research on marijuana and for manufacturing marijuana products for research purposes and drug development.” Biden also signed an infrastructure bill in 2021, which contained provisions for cannabis. It states that in two years, the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services must submit a report that addresses how researchers can receive increased samples of various strains, establishing a “national clearinghouse” that will help researchers better distribute cannabis products for research, and an increased amount of samples for researchers who don’t live in states with medical or adult-use cannabis legalization.
On the side, studies exploring the benefits of other psychedelic substances are also rising. One study in the journal Psychopharmacology found evidence that psilocybin can treat those with autism spectrum disorder. The University College of London released the results of a recent study as well, which analyzed brain imaging of consumers who attended psychedelic retreats. Another from the University of Melbourne explored how ayahuasca benefits outweigh the risks.