Most in US think cannabis has health benefits, despite lack of data – study
Millions of Americans believe medical marijuana is helpful in treating a variety of health problems that have not been proven by research, according to a new study.
More than a third of the respondents see cannabis as being beneficial for health, a nationally representative survey by the University of California, San Francisco shows.
Just under half believe it can relieve insomnia, anxiety and depression, ailments for which marijuana’s efficacy and safety have not been established by scientists.
In the US, marijuana’s unique legal situation complicates efforts to study and obtain accurate information about the drug’s harms and benefits.
According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency responsible for drug law enforcement, marijuana is a schedule I drug, meaning that it has serious risks and no medical benefits. Other drugs in this category include heroin and LSD.
At the same time, marijuana’s schedule I status has lost credibility in recent years. In June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a first for a drug derived from the marijuana plant. The drug, developed by the UK firm GW Pharmaceuticals, won approval to treat certain severe pediatric epilepsy disorders.
In addition, 31 US states have legalized medical marijuana for a wide variety of illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, for which there is not medical proof of efficacy.
Medicinally, use is restricted to certain things per state. Most allow it for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients to alleviate pain. Some have approved the drug for ALS, some for epilepsy, and some for multiple sclerosis.
To alleviate the current opioids crisis some states, including New York, are willing to allow anyone prescribed an opioid wide latitude to replace it with medical marijuana.
But Dr Keyhani, an internist and health services researcher, was concerned that the push to promote the product as it becomes legalized has blurred the lines between what we know, what we don’t know, what we suspect, and what we are dubious about.
Mixed signals regarding marijuana’s potential dangers and benefits have enabled the commercial marijuana industry to promote a maximalist view of marijuana’s possible benefits, and the cannabis industry has fast grown into a multi-billion dollar operation.
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