Is pot good medicine?

REUTERS
A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California
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Pot fans have long touted marijuana’s medicinal effects.

But a just-released massive report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine provides the good, bad and clearly unknown story about pot’s beneficial uses. And in many cases, the report can’t offer proof of claims that pot cures some cancers and other diseases.

The report is based on an analysis of 10,000 studies and the conclusions they reached. But, while this report showed that marijuana is effective in the treatment of pain, nausea (as a symptom of chemotherapy) and multiple sclerosis, other benefits could not be substantiated.

And while the report identified several negative effects, such as increased risk of driving accidents or bronchitis, it found no evidence that cannabis use increases the risk of lung cancer.

Moreover, this report concludes, more than other factor, that so much remains unknown – especially since the US has restricted research. Because the federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, permission to research it must be approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration. That’s not quite, but close to, an Act of Congress.

Despite the recent massive report compiling divergent studies worldwide, more current research is proving encouraging for marijuana.

For example, scientists have found that cannabidiol, or CBD, one of the myriad compounds in marijuana, has a positive effect on a range of medical conditions. Initial studies indicate CBD can reduce inflammation, shrink malignant tumors, ease anxiety, protect against neurodegenerative diseases and even reduce symptoms of psychosis.

TRENDPOST: More studies are needed, but some entrepreneurs aren’t waiting. Some already are planning to farm hemp strains high in CDB and low in THC, the compound in marijuana that makes you high. These strains may be able to qualify as legal crops under current drug laws. Moreover, as pro-marijuana sentiment builds, more studies will sort out the health benefits, which will help shape investment, as recreational use becomes more accepted, popular and profitable.