Marijuana Research: The Big Questions Researchers Want Answered

While marijuana is now becoming more legally accessible in the United States, there is still a lot that researchers don’t know about how this plant really works.

It was in the 1930s, during what was referred to as “Reefer Madness,” that marijuana was first banned. Just because marijuana is now more legally accessible, there is still a lot of research to be done in order to better understand the plant and exactly how it affects people.

Business Insider notes that all marijuana research has told society so far is that there are some legitimate medical uses and benefits. That and the fact that it is more than likely less harmful than opioids, alcohol, and even tobacco. Naturally, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done, as researchers have a pretty long list of marijuana-related questions.

Marijuana researchers have questions [Image by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images]

The unfortunate truth is strict government regulations on marijuana make it extremely difficult for research to be conducted on the plant. This is one of the biggest reasons why researchers have so many questions about how the plant really works.

Business Insider recently had the opportunity to ask prominent researchers what type of questions they have that need to be answered about marijuana.

How are casual users affected by marijuana?

Marijuana research has been able to turn up a fair amount of information regarding how consumption of weed can affect chronic users. Researchers, however, don’t really know how weed consumption affects casual users. A casual user being someone who doesn’t smoke every day – or even every week. Business Insider notes this is one of the most important questions about weed that researchers need to answer as it becomes legal in more and more places.


How does marijuana affect children?

The easiest way for researchers to conduct research on how marijuana use affects children is to follow individuals who started using weed as a child. Researchers will need to determine why and when the individual started using. Obviously, this is not as easy of a question to research as the researchers are never going to give marijuana to a child just for the sake of testing how it affects children.


There is, however, an ongoing ABCD study which will help provide answers to this question. This study has followed 10,000 children around the United States who started using marijuana when they were between the age of 9 or 10. During the study, the 10,000 children will be followed for a decade – to determine how marijuana use may affect a child.

How does medical marijuana affect a person’s life?

Marijuana research has revealed that marijuana is capable of treating a number of different conditions, such as chronic pain. Researchers do not, however, know what kind of side effects consuming marijuana to treat things like chronic pain will do to someone. Will it affect their sleep, brain activity, or quality of life? These are questions marijuana researchers want answered. Fortunately there is a study being conducted in the state of Massachusetts which should provide some information regarding this question.

How are older people affected by marijuana use?

There has been a lot of data gathered regarding how marijuana use affects younger users, but researchers are currently unsure of how it affects older user. This is a question that would apply to an older individual who starts using recreationally – or for a medical reason. Researchers speculate older individuals are probably less likely to have negative brain change to worry about than a younger person who still has a brain that is developing.

The shadow of someone smoking a joint of marijuana
The U.S. is still trying to understand marijuana [Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

Some other questions that researchers want to know the answers to include:

  • What exactly is in the marijuana plant?
  • Will different strains affect people differently?
  • Does “strength” of marijuana matter?
  • Does the method of consuming marijuana matter?
  • What risks are associated with using marijuana while pregnant?
  • What risks are associated with using marijuana while breastfeeding?
  • Are certain people more prone to a negative reaction to marijuana?
  • Can negative side effects of marijuana be counteracted?
  • How will police officers fairly regulate marijuana to prevent driving while stoned?

As you can see, marijuana research still has a long way to go. Marijuana researchers are confident that answering these questions is the key to making people more comfortable with marijuana legalization.

What are your thoughts on the latest marijuana research questions?

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]