If you browse the other pieces I’ve authored on cannabis, a phrase I often find myself repeating is that “more research is needed,” because it always is! Of course, certain scientific topics are of greater interest to funders and get prioritized. Diseases that cause widespread harm will always need to be understood to be cured. As a treatment, and a popular recreational drug, there currently is a serious lacking in volume and variety of studies on cannabis.
The regular stoner can support universities and accredited institutions undertaking research currently through donations, and write to federal and state representatives for funding to be allotted to these projects. Simply letting government officials at all levels know that you believe cannabis is worth excellent scientific consideration may be the catalyst to create the bills that would ensure action.
As for the research itself, the National Academies Press wrote a list of recommendations in 2017 that should be taken to improve the cannabis research agenda. However, they also addressed challenged and barriers, like regulation and supply, lack of funding, and methodological challenges (like where to conduct a study, how to administer cannabis, how to ensure doses are equal if smoked, so on and so forth).
To rectify these problems, the NAP has formerly suggested steps that should be taken. Addressing research gaps is necessary and would require a national, organized agenda under the goal of “minimizing harms and maximizing benefits,” and larger changes to policy. Clinical, observational studies should be conducted, health economics and laws studied, modeled, as well as public safety standards. This research must well designed, correctly collected, and results transparently shared. Certain standards must be created, implemented, and accounted for by agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, US Health Department, and others. Overall data collection and surveillance must be tracked, which could be as simple as including cannabis questions on national surveys.
The freedom in this new age of cannabis decriminalization is a wonderful thing, and in our capitalist society, gives us many products in competition, with lots of brands to choose from. Hopefully, we are trusting the right ones. Only recently are studies being released that are investigating the long term effects, and potential risks of cannabis consumption. Although I love cannabis, for it to be used safely, or its full potential to be unlocked, we need to know more. Sure, enough is known for this green age to have even started – the desire for research exists, but has ultimately been stalled by fear of the plant. The exciting prospects of cannabis’ medicinal value has only been scratched, and is disappointing that it isn’t being found of more importance by our lawmakers. Privatized research can’t necessarily be trusted to be performed without bias, and is not ideal.
There’s no hiding out with your neighborhood weed guy in the shadows- cannabis has been ushered into the open and there’s no going back. So shouldn’t we educate ourselves as thoroughly as possible, especially now that we can?