The importance of hard data on the effectiveness of medical cannabis

Published Aug 26, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Skarie20

The marijuana plant has been utilized for medicinal purposes for a number of years, but it wasn’t until recently that we’ve seen a rise in the number of regions fully accepting of this form of treatment. This is excellent news for medical patients of all sorts, as it means a greater and fairer level of access to something that never should have been banned in the first place, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready to stop here.

The progress that we’ve made after decades’ worth of research alongside current clinical trials is astounding, to say the least, as we’ve uncovered more cannabis elements then we ever knew was possible, but figuring out how these elements work with the human body is a challenging science, and it’s a necessary step if we want to achieve the greatest heights possible with medical cannabis.

This history of cannabis use for medicinal purposes

Marijuana plant products have been used for medicinal purposes almost everywhere in the world, like in Ancient China, where it worked rather efficiently as an aesthetic for surgery, and in India where Bhang is still taken for nearly every pain related ailment that you can think of today. It seems like we have always known that the plant is beneficial for humans, and yet there is still a high demand for more solid evidence to back up these claims.

We need these claims verified

You might think that cannabis research is only done to solidify what we already know, but the reality is that we seem to be discovering something new each day, and many of those discoveries simply leave us with more questions than we have answers. One example of this is THC, a cannabinoid that was once believed to produce the euphoric high and notorious side effects that so many users love, but we have since realized that there are more elements at work when this happens.

The same is true for CBD, a highly touted medicinal cannabinoid that is broadly marketed for almost every illness or ailment that you could imagine, as we once thought that this element had no side effects at all. We need to verify these claims in the name of science to help us to further understand the various aspects of the cannabis plant, and not just so that we can convince non-users of its potential or relevance.

Doctors need a basis from which to prescribe cannabis products to patients

Even if our medical professionals were willing to take a leap of faith and assume that people who are reporting great success with cannabis products are being 100% truthful, we still need that hard evidence for our doctors to use. Otherwise, how are they supposed to come up with an effective and efficient treatment plan for each case? Typically, we get that far with pharmaceutical medicine by documenting multiple trials and outcomes over an extended period of time, and we’re not quite there yet.

Patients have a hard time trusting treatment they don’t understand

If you’ve never tried cannabis for medicinal purposes, then you’re likely to approach the idea with a bit of anxiety and hesitation, especially if you’ve grown up during a time when federal marijuana laws protecting cannabis did not exist. After spending so much time being told that the marijuana plant is somehow bad, most understandably start out with a lack of trust, and there is no way to convince them that the plant has true medicinal purposes without real hard data to prove it.

The importance of trial and error

Hard data would give us everything that we could ever need to know about the marijuana plant including things like potential effects, adverse effects, effectiveness, and dosing, and all of these things are essential to virtually everyone within the cannabis community including recreational users who might not care so much about a treatment plan, as their priority is little more than a delicious and potent high.

Unfortunately, without rigorous research, we won’t ever know these things, which could mean that thousands of patients go without treatment because of the uncertainty of helping their situation. It could also mean that hundreds of cannabis companies would get away with making false claims, while true proven benefits and methods are lost in the wind.

The future of marijuana plant products for medicinal purposes

Imagine what it would be like to visit your family doctor with chronic pain, and then to get sent home with the perfect dose of cannabis products to soothe what ails you without all of the nastier side effects that can hinder things like cognitive function and state of mind. Not only would you benefit greatly from such a treatment, but you could avoid pharmaceutical medicines that come with a host of adverse effects and a high price.

Once we have a better understanding of what we’re dealing with when it comes to the medicinal purposes of the marijuana plant, we will be able to treat millions of people around the world, and in most cases, since the species can be grown with little to no experience, many patients will be able to grow their own medicine. This could be life changing for so many, and it could help to establish the legal industry that is already in place; We’ll just have to figure out the best way to do that with hard data before we can proceed.

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