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2021 was a record-breaking year for cannabis research

Researchers have published more than 3,800 cannabis-related papers so far this year, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). It’s the highest number of papers produced on cannabis, ever — beating last year’s record of more than 3,500.

The fear of the unknown myth

A quick keyword search of the National Library of Medicine/PubMed.gov website yields thousands of papers published a wide range of research topics focused on health, youth use and behaviours — which challenges the persistent myth that not enough is known about the substance to legalize it. 

“Despite claims by some that marijuana has yet to be subject to adequate scientific scrutiny, scientists’ interest in studying cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, as has our understanding of the plant, its active constituents, their mechanisms of action, and their effects on both the user and upon society,” NORML’s deputy director Paul Armentano said in a statement.

The cannabis compendium

NORML closely tracks research on cannabis. Since 2010, they say 27,000 peer-reviewed papers have been published, increasing steadily year over year. Much of the work is focused on health and the therapeutic potential of cannabis.

Last month, they updated their compendium called Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000-2021. It looks at more than 450 peer-reviewed studies on the safety and applications of cannabis for autism, pain, diabetes, PTSD and more. 

Time to engage

The group says with the wealth of information on cannabis, it’s time for reluctant state and federal government officials to look more closely at what’s available. 

 “It is time for politicians and others to stop assessing cannabis through the lens of ‘what we don’t know’ and instead start engaging in evidence-based discussions about marijuana and marijuana reform policies that are indicative of all that we do know.”

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