Trial and Error: Medical Marijuana, the Absence of Evidence, and the Allure of Anecdote

For the past four years, Christy Shake has given her son marijuana extract six times a day to ease his childhood epilepsy. Hers is a compelling story that highlights the potential benefits of medical cannabis. But in the wake of antiquated and inflexible federal legislation, anecdotal reports like these are essentially all we have. More than half the states in the U.S. have voted to legalize medical marijuana, as thousands contend it’s a viable treatment for a growing list of conditions. Nevertheless, as more and more patients gain access to cannabis, neither they nor their physicians understand exactly what they’re receiving from local dispensaries. Patients, caregivers, scientists, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and dispensary growers alike are calling for changes to government policies that restrict research. It’s high time to separate politics from science.

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Raleigh McElvery

About Raleigh McElvery

Raleigh McElvery is the science writer and multimedia producer for the MIT Department of Biology, where she crafts videos, podcasts, news stories, and researcher profiles. She is also a freelance science journalist, and has written for Science, Discover Magazine, Quanta Magazine, Chemical & Engineering News, MIT Technology Review, NOVA Next, and more. Thesis: Trial and Error: Medical Marijuana, the Absence of Evidence, and the Allure of Anecdote

 
 

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