Is Medical Cannabis Evidence-Based Medicine? Concerns Based on Qualifying Conditions and the National Academy of Sciences Report

This study aims to examine the coherence of state-level qualifying conditions (QCs) for medical cannabis (MC) with the evidence-based conclusions of the 2017 National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report. Data was collected for the QCs from 38 states where MC was legal in 2023 and compared to the QC data from 31 states where MC was legal in 2017. Each condition was divided into a NAS-established category based on the level of evidence supporting their effectiveness. The findings revealed wide variation in the number of QCs between states, with only an average of 8.4% of QCs in each state generally satisfying the substantial evidence category. Over three fourths of states included QCs with limited evidence of ineffectiveness (78.9%) or no/insufficient evidence (76.3%). Additionally, four fifths (81.6%) of states included QCs not covered in the NAS report. Only a few states appeared to have updated their QCs after the NAS report was released. This investigation highlights a large discrepancy between the state-level recommendations for MC and the supporting data.

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