The Science of Cannabis
by Theodore Dalrymple
Report by the National Academics of Science here...
It’s curious how people’s beliefs about matters of fact often follow their political opinions, rather than the other way around. Those who believe in an active regulatory state are much more likely to believe in man-made global warming than those who want to reduce the role of the state to a minimum—though whether such warming exists or not is, or ought to be, a matter of empirical fact. Strictly speaking, it would be possible to believe in man-made global warming without subscribing to the need for close regulation; but, in practice, political and empirical beliefs usually go together.
It is the same with cannabis. Those in favor of legalization—or liberalization—tend to emphasize its benefits and deny its harms; those against emphasize the harms and deny the benefits.
A report just published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine tries dispassionately to assess the evidence for the health benefits and harms of cannabis and cannabinoids (the active chemicals in marijuana). It steers clear, quite rightly, of polemics: for, as Hume argued, no statement of value is to be derived from statements of fact. Where the evidence is not yet strong, or where there is none, the report says so.