Lately, there’s been an increase in the number of medical marijuana research studies underway. As more studies are completed, the medical community is creating a better understanding of how cannabis works as medicine and what conditions it can assist in treating.
With so much research going on now, however, it can feel a little overwhelming. You may find yourself struggling to keep up with the news. Competing studies may release contradicting results. How do you know what’s actually going on?
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest research on medical marijuana.
The Medical Marijuana Research Boom
The first thing you need to know about medical marijuana research right now is there’s a bit of a boom. There are many projects underway. More studies mean more results and more reporting. If it seems like medical marijuana has been in the news more lately, it probably has been.
Why the sudden interest? The changing status of recreational marijuana in much of North America seems to have helped. Researchers have been able to conduct more studies.
Worldwide, interest in medical marijuana has also been gaining steam. While many studies are being conducted in places like Canada and California, where cannabis is legal or soon to be legal, countries like Germany and Israel are also conducting large amounts of research.
What Are They Studying?
Current research is looking at any number of different health conditions. People want to know what conditions medical marijuana can help treat and manage.
Pain is one of the best-studied areas today. So far, studies indicate medical cannabis has many properties that allow it to assist in the effective treatment and management of pain conditions. Most studies have focused on chronic pain, including nerve pain, spinal pain, and pain associated with inflammatory conditions.
Other studies are looking at a wide variety of illnesses and health conditions. More research is being conducted on conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies are even looking at the role cannabis could play in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Mental health is another area of investigation. The effects of medical marijuana on appetite, mood, energy, motivation, and sleep are also under investigation.
Why Are There Conflicting Reports?
One thing that may seem confusing about the latest medical marijuana research is conflicting results. One study says cannabis is great for treating anxiety and depression, while another study says it’s not.
Why is this?
Most of the research underway right now focuses on self-reporting from patients. If all the patients in the study felt medical cannabis helped them manage their anxiety, the study would report a seemingly positive effect. If the patients said they didn’t see improvement, then the study would report a neutral or negative effect. This is normal.
Another issue is that researchers don’t standardize the specific strains. As we know, different strains have different effects. For example, some can cause anxiety while some can relax. There is no standardization in any data, controls, or placebo groups for much of the research, leading to conflicting results.
More Medical Marijuana Research Is Needed
What these studies point to is a need for even more research on medical cannabis. While many studies suggest cannabis could have a positive effect on a number of different health conditions, most of the results are preliminary. The results suggest there could be a positive effect.
The next step will be for researchers to conduct long-term investigative studies to determine what medical marijuana does. This research is already underway, but more studies will improve the understanding of how medical cannabis functions.
The latest medical marijuana research is promising. Only more research over time will show the roles cannabis can play in the treatment of any number of different conditions.