Go to any bar or public place and ask for opinions about Cannabis, and every respondent will have a different opinion. Some opinions will be well informed by reputable sources, while others will be formed without any foundation. Certainly, research and research-based conclusions are difficult given the long history of illegality. Nonetheless, there is a wave of opinion that Cannabis is good and should be legalized. Many U.S. and Australian states have taken the path of Cannabis legalization. Other countries are following the trend or considering solutions. So what is the current position? Is Cannabis Good or bad?

green leaves in close up photography

The National Academy of Sciences released a 487-page report (NAP report) this year on the current state of evidence in this area. Numerous government grants supported the work of the committee, a prominent collection of 16 professors. They were assisted by 15 academic reviewers and some 700 relevant publications were considered. The report is therefore considered “state of the art” on medical and recreational use. This article is largely based on this resource.

The term “Cannabis ” is used here in a broad sense to refer to both Cannabis Copilot  and marijuana, the latter being derived from a different part of the plant. There are over 100 chemical compounds in Cannabis each potentially offering different benefits or risks.


A person who is “stoned” after smoking Cannabis may experience a euphoric state in which time is irrelevant, music and colors take on greater meaning, and the person may experience cravings for sweet and fatty foods. This state is often associated with disturbances in motor function and cognition. When high blood concentrations are reached, paranoid thoughts, hallucinations, and panic attacks may characterize their “trip.”


In common parlance, Cannabis Copilot is often referred to as “good shit” and “bad shit,” alluding to the widespread practice of contamination. Contaminants can come from soil quality (e.g., pesticides and heavy metals) or be added after the fact. Sometimes lead particles or tiny glass beads also add to the sales weight.


A random selection of therapeutic effects appears here in the context of their evidence status. Some of these effects are presented as beneficial, while others are associated with risks. Some effects differ little from research placebos.

Cannabis in the treatment of epilepsy is inconclusive due to insufficient evidence.

Nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy may be ameliorated by oral Cannabis.

A reduction in pain severity in patients with chronic pain is a likely outcome of Cannabis Copilot use.

Symptom improvement has been reported for spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Limited evidence shows that Cannabis increases appetite and decreases weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients.

Based on limited evidence, Cannabis is ineffective in treating glaucoma.

Based on limited evidence, cannabis is effective in the treatment of Tourette syndrome.

Posttraumatic stress disorder has been helped by Cannabis in a single reported trial.

Limited statistical evidence suggests better outcomes for traumatic brain injury.

Evidence is insufficient to claim that Cannabis can help Parkinson’s disease.

Limited evidence has dashed hopes that Cannabis can help improve symptoms in people with dementia.

Limited statistical evidence can be found to support a link between smoking Cannabis and heart attacks.

Based on limited evidence, Cannabis is ineffective in treating depression.

There is limited, statistical evidence of a reduction in the risk of metabolic problems (diabetes, etc.).

A social anxiety disorder may be alleviated by Cannabis although evidence is limited. Asthma and Cannabis use are not well supported by evidence, either pro or con.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has been helped by Cannabis in a single reported trial.

A conclusion that cannabis can help people with schizophrenia cannot be supported or refuted because of the limited nature of the evidence.


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