In a sweeping study, The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have concluded that cannabis does have legitimate medicinal value, but more research is required to determine the potential health risks, according to an Ars Technica report outlining the details.
In their 400-page analysis, researchers determined that cannabis and cannabinoids were effective in treating chronic pain and for chemotherapy-related vomiting and nausea in cancer patients, but observed that much more research is needed in order to determine the efficacy of its use as it relates to other conditions.
Additionally, the authors concluded that cannabis use is not linked to cancers attributed to smoking, but that smoking could increase respiratory problems and smoking cannabis while pregnant might lead to lower birth rates. It was not clear whether there were any long-term effects for children exposed to cannabis.
The researchers also debunked the ‘gateway’ myth associated with cannabis use, but indicated that many cannabis smokers use tobacco products and said that people who use cannabis are prone to becoming substance dependent. The committee determined that cannabis use may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.
The committee is hopeful that the report could help steer policy discussion and concluded that cannabis should not be a Schedule I substance.