Medical Science Goes to Pot

Whoa, is this a sham? (Shutterstock photo)

Whoa, is this a sham?
(Shutterstock photo)

Medical marijuana might not be all that beneficial, medically speaking:

That’s the takeaway from a new JAMA assessment of 79 studies involving nearly 6,500 people that found little evidence the drug helps patients, including those suffering from depression and glaucoma, the AP and LiveScience report. The strongest evidence of marijuana’s positive effects came in those with chronic nerve or cancer pain. Patients who took cannabinoids like THC or CBD were 40% more likely to see at least a 30% reduction in pain compared to those using a placebo. Positive effects were also seen in those with muscle stiffness related to multiple sclerosis and in chemotherapy patients dealing with nausea and vomiting, but that’s not to say that marijuana treats those conditions only or at all, adds Reuters.

Some researchers argue too little is known about marijuana’s potential benefits because research is often hindered by governments against its use. The studies that do exist tend to be small and based on “low-quality scientific evidence, anecdotal reports, individual testimonials, legislative initiatives, and public opinion,” the study authors say. “Imagine if other drugs were approved through a similar approach.”


I always took “medical marijuana” for what I figured it was — stealth legalization. However, I also figured that any reduction in the Drug War’s lousy strictures was a good thing, even if the premise was a bit silly.

But it looks like these studies are just too small or too flawed to let us know either way.


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