Research undermines medical marijuana claims

SUPPORTERS of medical marijuana say it’s a wonder drug that ameliorates or cures numerous afflictions. A report cited by some backers of legalization in Oklahoma paints a less-glowing picture of marijuana’s potential medical uses.

Those promoting State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana, often point to “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” a 2017 report issued by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, which reviewed more than 10,700 research abstracts to determine what, if any, medical benefit has been demonstrated from marijuana.

The report reveals research has found only a handful of instances where there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” marijuana provides medical benefit. These include treatment of chronic pain in adults, treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and reduction of multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. There is “moderate evidence” marijuana benefits those with sleep disorders.

Past that point, there’s not much research indicating undeniable benefit. And the report reveals research shows marijuana is not a treatment for dementia, glaucoma, or reducing depressive symptoms in people with chronic pain or multiple sclerosis. And it finds there is “no or insufficient evidence” of marijuana benefit to those with cancer, anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Neither has marijuana been proven to help people abstain from other addictive substances.

Put simply, to the degree valid medical research exists on marijuana, it has found only limited, disease-specific benefits. But the National Academies further undermines SQ 788 because in those instances where medical benefit has been identified, it rarely involves smoking the plant. Instead, the treatments that have shown promise are often oral cannabinoids. (In Oklahoma, cannabidiol (CBD) oil that does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is already legal.)

Yet a key plank of SQ 788 is that

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