Recent years have seen a rapid rise in the medical and recreational use of cannabis: a broad term that can be used to describe the various products and chemical compounds (e.g., marijuana, cannabinoids) derived from different species of the cannabis plant. Despite increased cannabis use and a changing state-level policy landscape, conclusive evidence regarding the short- and long-term health effects—both harms and benefits—of cannabis use remains elusive.
A lack of definitive evidence has resulted in insufficient information on the health implications of cannabis use, causing a significant public health concern for vulnerable populations such as adolescents, pregnant women, and others. Unlike with substances such as alcohol or tobacco, no accepted standards exist to help guide individuals as they make choices regarding if, when, where, and how to use cannabis safely and, in regard to therapeutic uses, effectively.
With support from a host of federal, state, philanthropic and nongovernmental organizations, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an ad hoc, expert committee to develop a comprehensive, in-depth review of the most recent evidence regarding health effects of using cannabis and cannabis-derived products. In the resulting report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, the committee presents nearly 100 research conclusions. The committee also formulated recommendations to expand and improve the quality of cannabis research efforts, enhance data collection efforts to support the advancement of research, and address the current barriers to cannabis research.