This week saw release of a comprehensive report about the health impacts of marijuana, a massive consensus study delivered by a U.S. federal advisory panel. Of the 16 committee experts on this panel, Professor John Williams, MD, of Duke General Internal Medicine participated. Dr. Williams was chosen for his expertise in evidence synthesis. Williams directs the Durham VA Evidence Synthesis Program and has led numerous systematic reviews, most recently the senior author for a review of metformin usage, published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"I really knew very little about marijuana when I started this project," says Williams. "Although not legal in North Carolina, I think we are going to see more patients in our practices who use marijuana and we have a responsibility to learn about the health effects."
"I think we are going to see more patients in our practices who use marijuana and we have a responsibility to learn about the health effects."
The marijuana report is unique to come from all three National Academies: the National Academy of Medicine led by our former Duke chancellor, Dr. Victor Dzau, along with Science and Engineering, plus numerous sponsors of the study ranging from institutes of public health to the Truth Initiative.
The document was a substantial effort, analyzing over 10,000 studies and drawing approximately 100 conclusions, though without conclusive evidence about the positive or negative effects of marijuana.
Dr. Williams sends "a big thank you" to his clinical colleagues at the Durham VA who helped tremendously by covering many of his clinical responsibilities during the time on this project. "It was the only way I could participate and they stepped up in a big way!"
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24625. [Link]
Full report here.
Examples of news outlets covering the story:
NPR "Marijuana's Health Effects? Top Scientists Weigh In"
The Washington Post "The definitive guide to what experts know about the effects of marijuana use"
LA Times "Experts have only a hazy idea of marijuana’s myriad health effects, and federal laws are to blame"