Report on the Health Impacts of Cannabis Released

Yesterday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released their report on the health impacts of cannabis and cannabinoids. Please recall that the California Department of Public Health was one of the sponsors of the study that assessed over 10,000 studies exploring the various impacts cannabis has on a variety of issues including human health, cancer, prenatal, perinatal, and neonatal exposure, and mental health. Some of their findings are outlined below:

  • In adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, oral cannabinoids are effective antiemetics.
  • In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.
  • Evidence suggest that smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for certain cancers (lung, head, and neck) in adults.
  • Smoking cannabis on a regular basis is associated with chronic cough and phlegm production.
  • It is unclear whether cannabis use is associated with COPD, asthma, or worsened lung function.
  • Smoking cannabis during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight in the offspring.
  • The relationship between smoking cannabis during pregnancy and other pregnancy and childhood outcomes is unclear.
  • Initiating cannabis use at a younger age increases the likelihood of developing problem cannabis use.
  • Cannabis use prior to driving increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
  • In states where cannabis use is legal, there is increased risk of unintentional cannabis overdose injuries among children.
  • Recent cannabis use impairs the performance in cognitive domains of learning, memory, and attention.
  • Cannabis use during adolescence is related to impairments in subsequent academic achievement and education, employment and income, and social relationships and social roles.
  • Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use the greater the risk.

A couple of other items to note from the study included a paucity of research on the connection between drugged driving and accidents, prohibitive federal rules have made research exceedingly difficult, and finally, that testing the health effects of cannabis products available to consumers is illegal (including barring researchers from testing edible cannabis products for contaminants).