Researchers published almost 4,300 scientific articles about cannabis in 2022, twice as many as were published in the entire decade of the 1980s.
The total number of weed-focused research studies has been growing exponentially since the turn of the century. According to a keyword search of the National Library of Medicine's PubMed.gov website, researchers published 4,286 scientific articles that list “marijuana” as their primary topic in 2022. This impressive figure sets a new record for the largest number of pot-related scientific articles published in a single year, breaking last year's record of around 4,200 studies.
In contrast, fewer than 3,000 cannabis studies were published in the entire decade of the 1990s, and fewer than 2,000 were published in the 1980s. Throughout the entire 20th Century, researchers actually only published 8,639 marijuana-related articles, according to a PubMed search. In the last 22 years, the total number of weed studies has exploded to 34,323 – almost 300% more articles than were published in the previous century.
While most 20th Century cannabis studies focused on identifying (or outright manufacturing) risks and dangers of marijuana, most new studies focused on therapeutic applications. This year, researchers learned that cannabis can reduce the risk of heart attacks, improve quality of life for PTSD patients, treat cancer-related pain, and even potentially treat Covid symptoms. Some researchers expanded their sights to the animal kingdom, discovering that weed is great for cows, but bad for donkeys.
Other studies have focused on debunking outdated “reefer madness” myths. New research published this year confirms that teen pot use is continuing to decline in adult-use states and reports that students in legal-weed states are more likely to apply for college than students in prohibition states. Researchers have also found that young adults who have easier access to legal weed are less likely to use opioids, booze, and cigarettes – further disproving the “gateway drug” myth.
“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,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano in a statement. “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.”
2023 could very well shape up to be a banner year for cannabis research. After years of working to impede weed research, the feds have finally started relaxing unnecessary restrictions. Last month, President Biden signed a bill to remove some regulatory barriers that block researchers from studying cannabis. The DEA has also finally agreed to authorize additional cultivators to grow high-quality bud for research purposes and increased the quota of legal weed that it will make available to researchers next year.