Health Topic of the Month January 2017

Should You Trust that Latest Marijuana Study?

marijuana studiesWhen it comes to marijuana, there’s a lot of information out there. Living here in Colorado, it seems there’s always a new study with new information. The end of 2016 was filled with a focus on fake news. And that’s the thing about the internet and social media. Anyone can say what they want. They can make stuff up or take a truth and twist it to fit their belief. It’s up to us to evaluate the information we are receiving and determine if it is trustworthy. So how do you do that?

Let’s take the website ProCon.org as an example. It’s a nonprofit, nonpartisan public charity aiming to promote critical thinking, among other things. On the page we link to, you’ll find 60 peer reviewed studies on medical marijuana. You’ll see it ranks the studies by pro, con and not clear. How do you evaluate all these studies to determine what you should believe and what you shouldn’t?

You’re Right to be Skeptical

First, when it comes to the latest information on marijuana you’ll want to ask yourself – “Who performed the study? Who funded it? Where was it published?” These are all important factors. Here are a few very credible sources for you to consider:

Another great resource, according to 9Health Fair Vice President Marte Meyer, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Research funded by the NIH goes through a rigorous approval process which ensures no bias toward a particular outcome.”

If it’s not coming from one of the above sources and you really want to know whether or not you can trust the information, Meyer says, “Be skeptical of anyone publishing or performing research with any kind of bias. Bias means you have a particular interest in one outcome over another. Good research is done by institutions without a vested interested in the outcome and they will have published information about this.”

Because the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, it is stringently controlled in research and requires costly security measures for any labs or institutions studying it. “There are many scientists recommending marijuana be moved to a schedule II drug,” says Meyer, “which would make it much easier for conducting studies.”

Meyer’s advice overall – be skeptical. “Healthy skepticism is a good trait when evaluating research data and research in general.  Google is an incredible tool in the evaluation of research and the rule is don’t rely on one source.  Use multiple good resources.”

Time to Practice

Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ve learned how to evaluate information for yourself. Now’s the time to go back to ProCon.org. For each study determine and evaluate the following:

  • Who conducted the study?
  • Who funded it?
  • Who published it?

Remember, these skills don’t just apply to evaluating what you’re reading about marijuana. You can use them to evaluate anything you’re reading! Even our Live Healthy ENewsletter!