Cannabis Legalization May Be Moving Too Fast

There’s plenty we still don’t know about risks and benefits

Not all cannabis is created equal; neither are the people that use it. Research has revealed a concerning trend of confusion and false promises when it comes to the purported health effects of this increasingly popular substance.

Routinely, a new cannabis-infused product claims to relieve a multitude of ailments. But alarmingly, most of these unregulated products make such claims with neither scientific evidence to back them nor regard for potential long-term health consequences. When it comes to cannabis, the pace at which scientists are coming to understand the health effects of the substance pales in comparison with the speed at which it is becoming available to patients and the general population.

That situation hasn’t slowed the push to legalize cannabis, however. Last month, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to legalize marijuana in the state for adult use. In this effort, New York joins New Jersey and South Dakota, which will have ballot measures on recreational cannabis legalization in November.

Several other states are reportedly considering such legalization as well. Though legalization has its pros and cons, increased cannabis availability seems inevitable. For this reason, nationwide decision makers should consult rigorously designed multidisciplinary prospective studies in order to create evidence-based policies on cannabis use. At the very least, it should be understood that not all cannabis is the same.

Since 2017 a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report entitled The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids has served as a warning even as cannabis has become more available and legal.

This systematic, comprehensive review notes that the dearth of rigorous research on the health effects of cannabis poses a public health risk. In other words, research to date is unclear in determining if cannabis is safe or unsafe with respect to long-term health effects in areas such as cardiovascular disease risk.

The lack of evidence regarding various health outcomes for cannabis users leads to confused patients, heath care professionals and policy makers.

Read the full article at ScientificAmerican

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