Record Number of Scientific Papers Published About Cannabis in 2021

In the first eleven months of 2021, researchers worldwide published a record 3,800+ scientific papers on the subject of cannabis, according to the results of a keyword search of the National Library of Medicine/PubMed.gov website.

This exceeds the total number of papers published during all of last year. In 2020, scientists published 3,500+ papers on cannabis in peer-reviewed journals — a total which was, at that time, the most ever in a single year.

“Despite claims by some that marijuana has yet to be subject to adequate scientific scrutiny, scientists’ interest in studying cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, as has our understanding of the plant, its active constituents, their mechanisms of action, and their effects on both the user and upon society,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “It is time for politicians and others to stop assessing cannabis through the lens of ‘what we don’t know’ and instead start engaging in evidence-based discussions about marijuana and marijuana reform policies that are indicative of all that we do know.”

Since 2010, scientists have published an estimated 27,000 peer-reviewed papers specific to cannabis, with the annual number of total papers increasing every year. By comparison, researchers published fewer than 3,000 total papers about marijuana in the years between 1990 and 1999 and fewer than 2,000 total studies during the 1980s.

A 2018 paper assessing trends in cannabis-related publications concluded that much of this uptick in scientific interest is a result of researchers’ newfound focus on marijuana’s therapeutic activities. Investigators reported that the total number of peer-reviewed publications dedicated to medical cannabis has increased nine-fold since the year 2000.

In November, NORML published an updated edition of the compendium, Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2021, which reviews over 450 peer-reviewed studies assessing the safety and efficacy of either whole-plant cannabis or individual cannabinoids in 23 different patient populations, including autism, chronic pain, diabetes, fibromyalgia, migraine, and post-traumatic stress. Copies of the book are available for download on the Kindle app and softcover copies are available in the NORML Store.

In all, PubMed.gov now cites over 38,5000 scientific papers on marijuana.

Available to the public online since 1996, PubMed is a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature.

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NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of marijuana by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use marijuana responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for marijuana-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.

Find out more at norml.org and read our Fact Sheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country.

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