Around 23 states across the US – including the US capitol, Washington – have passed laws that allow medical use of cannabis. However, the medical benefits of marijuana still remain debatable. A recent study, published in the American Medical Association claims these benefits may be very limited, and even less certain is marijuana’s role in reducing anxiety, psychosis or depression.
The findings in the Journal were based on a meta-analysis of 79 randomised controlled studies that included a total of nearly 6,500 patients.
“There was moderate-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may be beneficial for the treatment of chronic neuropathic or cancer pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis,” said the study, led by researcher Penny Whiting of the University of Bristol.
Less convincing was the evidence “suggesting that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome,” said the study.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana carried a long list of side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, euphoria, vomiting, disorientation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of balance and hallucination.
“Further large, robust randomised clinical trials are needed,” said the study.
A parallel editorial, published in JAMA by Deepak Cyril D’Souza and Mohini Ranganathan of the Yale University School of Medicine called for more rigorous study of marijuana when used for medical purposes.
“If the states’ initiative to legalise medical marijuana is merely a veiled step toward allowing access to recreational marijuana, then the medical community should be left out of the process, and instead marijuana should be decriminalised,” they wrote.
“Conversely, if the goal is to make marijuana available for medical purposes, then it is unclear why the approval process should be different from that used for other medications.”