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article imageOp-Ed: Study shows most Americans view medical marijuana favorably

By Ken Hanly     Jul 28, 2018 in Health
A new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that a large percentage of Americans have a favorable attitude to medical marijuana even though the study claims that the beliefs are not supported yet by scientific research.
Vast majority of respondents see some medical benefits for marijuana
For the study the authors surveyed about 16,000 Americans about marijuana. 81 percent of those who responded believed that marijuana had at least one medical benefit, in areas such as pain management, treating diseases, and alleviating mental health problems. Both medical and recreational marijuana is growing in popularity in the US and elsewhere.
More research needs to be done on benefits of medical marijuana
There is not high quality clinical evidence marijuana does all the things that people believe it does. Although the research is promising, it is not rock solid.
Neurologist Steven Novella notes that most published studies are poorly designed. The authors note: "As of 2013 there were fewer than 20 randomized controlled trials testing the benefits of marijuana. — the gold standard for scientific research — have tested the benefits of marijuana, according to the American Medical Association.) Some don’t necessarily show marijuana doing better than placebo, and many don’t investigate whether marijuana actually reduces symptoms or if it just makes people care less. There’s a lot we don’t know."
The reason for the dearth of research is that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) makes it extremely difficult to research marijuana. Scientists who want to study marijuana must use government samples.
Two years ago, the agency said it would provide universities with more licenses to do marijuana research but the DEA has not granted these licenses and is not accepting new ones. it would seem clear that the federal US government simply does not want to see evidence that medical marijuana is useful. This would increase pressure to legalize it at the Federal level.
The study concludes: "These are the kinds of policies that make it hard for us to see through claims flying in all directions. A few decades ago, we had Reefer Madness and propaganda about the overblown dangers of marijuana. Today, some have swung in the other direction, setting their sights on marijuana as a wonder drug with few downsides, even as rates of marijuana addiction are growing.
"The only way to have a clear-eyed view of both the benefits and harms of marijuana is by making it easier to study; by extension, that’s the only way for us to cut through the hype and make the most informed decisions."
Many US states, Canada and other countries have legalized medical marijuana
Around the globe medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana is legal. As Wikipedia notes: "Countries that have effectively legalized recreational cannabis are Canada, Spain, and Uruguay – plus the Netherlands where possession remains technically illegal but use and sale is tolerated in designated coffeeshops. In the United States, 9 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of cannabis.
"Countries that have legalized the medical use of cannabis include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, and Poland. Others have more restrictive laws that only allow the use of certain cannabinoid drugs, such as Sativex or Marinol. In the United States, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level its use remains prohibited for any purpose."
While no doubt many are hyping the use of marijuana for ailments that it is doubtful that it cures surely there are many studies even in the U.S. that show its medical benefits. Why cannot the US use foreign studies of the benefits the drug rather than require more U.S. studies?
The Harvard Health Blog has one study. The Annals of Internal Medicine Study can be found here. A lot of support for medical marijuana comes from personal experience as illustrated by the enclosed video.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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