Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.

50 Years Ago

Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana

Excerpt from the October 7, 1967 issue of Science News

7:00am, September 22, 2017

PUZZLE PLANT  After bursting on the scene in the 1960s, marijuana remains a substance with uncertain effects on mental health and medical conditions.

Sponsor Message

Confusion over effects

No one knows whether chronic marijuana smoking causes emotional troubles or is a symptom of them.... This dearth of evidence has a number of explanations: serious lingering reactions, if they exist, occur after prolonged use, rarely after a single dose; marijuana has no known medical use, unlike LSD, so scientists have had little reason to study the drug…. Also, marijuana has been under strict legal sanctions … for more than 30 years. – Science News, October 7, 1967


In 29 states and in Washington, D.C., marijuana is now commonly prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. But the drug’s pros and cons remain hazy. Regular pot use has been linked to psychotic disorders and to alcohol and drug addiction (SN Online: 1/12/17). And two recent research reviews conclude that very little high-quality data exist on whether marijuana effectively treats PTSD or pain. Several large-scale trials are under way to assess how well cannabis treats these conditions.


Science News Staff. Confusion over effects. Science News. Vol. 92, October 7, 1967, p. 345.

B. Bower. Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny. Science News Online, January 12, 2017.

M.E. O’Neil et al. Benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis for posttraumatic stress disorder. Annals of Internal Medicine. Published online August 15, 2017. doi:10.7326/M17-0477.

S.M. Nugent et al. The effects of cannabis among adults with chronic pain and an overview of general harms: a systematic review. Annals of Internal Medicine. Published online August 15, 2017. doi:10.7326/M17-0155.

Further Reading

L. Sanders. High-potency pot smokers show brain-fiber damage. Science News. Vol. 189, January 9, 2016, p. 8.

L. Sanders. Legalization trend forces review of marijuana’s dangers. Science News. Vol. 185, June 14, 2014, p. 16.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content