Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Children and Families, Public Health, Substance Use and Mental Health
Board: Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice

Activity Description

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the Academies) will appoint an ad hoc committee to develop a comprehensive, in-depth review of existing evidence regarding the health effects of using marijuana and/or its constituents.

The committee will develop a consensus report with two primary sections: 1) a section of the report will summarize what can be determined about the health effects of marijuana use and, 2) a section of the report will summarize potential therapeutic uses of marijuana.  The report will also provide a background overview of the cannabinoid/endocannabinoid system, history of use in the U.S., and the regulation and policy landscape. In addition, the report will outline and make recommendations regarding a research agenda identifying the most critical research questions regarding the association of marijuana use with health outcomes (both risks and therapeutic) that can be answered in the short-term (i.e., within a three-year time frame), as well as any steps that should be taken in the short-term to ensure that sufficient data are being gathered to answer long-term questions (e.g., appropriate questions on large population surveillance surveys, clinical data collection or other data capture, and resolution of barriers to linkage between survey data and death/morbidity registries to enable population-level morbidity and mortality effects estimates). The committee should focus on questions and consequences with the potential for the greatest public health impact, while shedding light on the characteristics of marijuana use that impact both short- and long-term health. 

In conducting its work, the committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the evidence, using accepted approaches of literature search, evidence review, grading and synthesis. Studies reviewed regarding health risks should be as broad as possible, including but not limited to epidemiology and clinical studies, and toxicology and animal studies when determined appropriate by the committee. The committee will provide summary determinations regarding causality based on strength of evidence. Both U.S. and international studies may be reviewed based upon relevance and methodological rigor. 

As of March 2016, the Health and Medicine Division continues the consensus studies and convening activities previously undertaken by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).



 Public Comment: If you have resources you would like to share with the committee, you can do so by submitting your comment to the project e-mail at

Any comment you submit to the committee, including your name and identifying information will not be kept confidential and will be included in the Public Access File as the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine complies with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Academies shall be authorized to use any such comments or submissions in accordance with the Academies' Terms of Use Statement.

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