From the perspective of the earth, the annual celestial orbit around the sun encompassing 2016 was, probably, nice; it went full circle, had some seasons, and chilled (* heated). No meteorites and only a few quakes. For the species that dominates the planet’s biosphere, the year took twists and turns that no one was prepared for. Here in the United States, the Trump Administration is an actual thing and cannabis is now permitted, either recreationally, medically, or both, in an additional eight states in the US.
The best cannabis studies of 2016 come with an overwhelming social victory, adding reach to nearly 20% of the entire US population in just one year (yay Democracy). While this indicates that even more scientific research and information is coming, it is the current research that will act as the ceiling, staving the US Department of Justice concerns, helping a status quo that works for the FED while the cannabis industry builds the rest of the house.
Let’s see what researchers learned about cannabis in 2016:
Cannabis users are less prone to aggression
What they did: Published in September of 2016 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, a study had been designed, developed, executed, analysed, and we now have the results. The purpose: to define the thresholds of aggression that can be coerced on alcohol users, cannabis users, and a control group, in order to define the biomechanic relay of aggressive behavior in each of the test groups. In so doing, a pretty good idea of how alcohol or cannabis act with aggression emerges.
(Side Note) When I was reading through the Journal, I couldn’t help but think of A Clockwork Orange, specifically where he is forced to watch all sorts of brutish stuff, because, well, this test places participants into a situation where they watched all manner of human violent tenacity. But getting paid to smoke weed/ drink and watch violent protest, police brutality — what a way to research.
What we learned: Marijuana users, when provoked with various means of aggression exposure, tended to maintain calm, relaxed whereas those who had been drinking seemed to invoke higher responses to the aggressive stimulus. In marijuana users, testosterone lowered after aggression stimulus, indicating that cannabis users increase cortisol levels post aggression, where alcohol decrease cortisol, a natural hormone that helps with stress and homeostasis.
Science backing up long-held ideas about cannabis, making it one of the best cannabis studies of 2016.
Cannabis use may cause gum disease, but not much else
What they did: This study spans several decades, following 1,000 New Zealander participants from birth till age 38. While they accumulated a bunch of data, they thoroughly back up several marijuana claims when it comes to overall, long term health issues.
What we learned: Cannabis users, particularly smokers, are more likely to end up with a periodontal disease like gingivitis, a shared effect of cigarette smoking, but this is where the health impacts of cannabis in regard to long term smoking and cigarettes diverge. Marijuana users were shown to exhibit no notable changes in lung function, metabolism, or inflammation, as is the case with tobacco. While lasting decades in length, the analysis ringing legitimacy to long-held cannabis experiences, therapeutic or otherwise, earned it’s way onto the best cannabis studies of 2016 list for it’s delivery of patience to patients around the country.
Treatment without Medicare Part D
What they did: A curious drop in Medicare prescriptions, particularly for pain, glaucoma, cancer, inflammation, depression, seizures, or gastrointestinal disorders, prompted researchers to find out why. The implementation of medical marijuana legislation, offering a substitute treatment option for those who aren’t wanting to be taking a variety of medicines, had an interesting impact on the Federal Medicare budget: it saves money.
As more and more states adopted marijuana friendly legislation, communities have flocked to the natural remedy. By tracking prescription “doses” metered out by Medicare doctors for conditions where cannabis could be an effective substitute, the study concluded similar drops are present in total prescription volume prescribed in many of the states where a medical marijuana market exists.
What we learned: According to the study, in 2010 alone Medicare Part D program and enrollee spending dropped by over $100 million. In 2013, that figure would jump to $165.5 million. The study shows an implicit link between medical cannabis and both governmental and individual health spending. The result of this: an overwhelming articulation that medical marijuana can save the government money on healthcare.
Migraines and the cannabinoid hope
What they did: As study peels back the multi-use plant that is cannabis, we have discovered that it interacts with serotonergic receptor sites in the nervous system. This has the potential to unlock new treatments for a wide variety of disorders and conditions, migraines among them. By tracking the frequency of migraine occurrence in adults who had switched to medical cannabis, data begins to tell a story of hope to those with otherwise ineffective medication for migraines.
What we learned: While not entirely well understood how it works, just that it does, researchers have been able to connect reductions in migraines and treatment with medical marijuana by ½. With over 37 million people in the United States suffering from migraines, with 11 million designating the condition as a disability, cannabis studies are becoming increasingly uniform: this will help, and we have proof.
Where popular opinion and study meet
The best cannabis studies of 2016 vary in scope, yet, sprinkled atop and woven throughout, there is nuanced messaging from our friend Mary Jane, and she’s tired of being a secret. While some of these study endeavors lasted decades and others only a few months, the commitment of governmental oversight in allowing the legal (but also illegal) cannabis industry to exist gives an expansive amount of wiggle-room for researchers.
And it seems, research is on Mary’s side this time, giving additional credence to the noise of cannabis hype. Long term health effects are minimal and therapeutic potential of cannabis is a medicinal quagmire unto itself; Medicare is being used less, saving the government some dollars and evolving recurrent, debilitating migraines into individual scarcity.
But hey, at least we know.