Separating Fact from Fiction: Examining the Limited Evidence of Proven Benefits of Marijuana

Hint: the evidence supporting medical marijuana use is less than many think!

Dr. Chad McDonald

6/21/20232 min read

person holding paper on kush
person holding paper on kush

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has long been a subject of debate and controversy. Advocates often tout its potential therapeutic benefits, while skeptics question the lack of conclusive scientific evidence supporting these claims. In this article, we aim to explore the existing body of research and shed light on the limited evidence of proven benefits associated with marijuana. While acknowledging its potential, it is essential to approach the topic with a critical mindset based on scientific scrutiny.

The Hype vs. Reality:

1. Pain Management:

One of the most commonly cited uses of marijuana is for pain management. While some studies suggest that cannabinoids, the active compounds in marijuana, may help alleviate certain types of pain, the evidence is far from conclusive. The American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society state that more research is needed to establish marijuana's efficacy in pain management. Furthermore, existing evidence often relies on subjective patient reports, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

2. Mental Health:

Marijuana is frequently promoted as a potential treatment for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. While some individuals may find temporary relief from these symptoms, studies have shown mixed results, and the long-term effects remain unclear. Additionally, marijuana use can exacerbate symptoms in individuals with certain mental health disorders, highlighting the importance of personalized treatment plans.

3. Cancer Treatment:

Another area where marijuana has been extensively discussed is its potential role in cancer treatment. While some laboratory and animal studies suggest that cannabinoids may have anti-cancer properties, clinical evidence in humans is limited. The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that more research is necessary to determine the potential benefits and risks of using marijuana as a cancer treatment.

4. Neurological Disorders:

The use of marijuana to treat neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, has garnered attention in recent years. While certain cannabis-derived medications, such as Epidiolex, have shown promise in reducing seizures in specific epilepsy syndromes, the evidence remains limited. Additionally, more research is needed to determine the appropriate dosage, potential side effects, and long-term effects of marijuana-based treatments.

5. Addiction Treatment:

Contrary to popular belief, insufficient evidence supports the notion that marijuana can effectively treat addiction to other substances. While some studies suggest that cannabinoids may have a role in reducing withdrawal symptoms, the overall effectiveness and long-term outcomes remain uncertain. Addiction treatment should rely on evidence-based therapies and medications undergoing rigorous testing and evaluation.


While proponents of marijuana often champion its potential benefits, it is important to acknowledge the limited evidence supporting these claims. The existing research on marijuana's therapeutic effects is often inconclusive, relying on small-scale studies, subjective reports, and conflicting results. It is crucial to approach the topic critically and rely on robust scientific evidence to inform our understanding of marijuana's true potential. As research in this field continues to evolve, it is essential to conduct large-scale clinical trials to determine the safety, efficacy, appropriate dosage, and potential long-term effects of marijuana-based treatments.