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Cannabis Research Guide: Bibliography

This guide will facilitate your investigation into cannabis. It provides links to important cannabis-related studies and directs you to databases for further research.

Latest Articles

7 facts about Americans and marijuana. (2023). This article from the nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center provides research-backed facts about the ever changing landscape of American opinions about marijuana.


Assessment of Medical Cannabis and Health-Related Quality of Life (2023). This article from the Journal of the American Medical Association assesses the effect medical cannabis has on patients' quality of life.

Cannabis Histories

Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America. (2017). An even-handed history of cannabis activism in the United States. Traces major grassroots efforts to influence marijuana policy over the last fifty years.


Getting High: Marijuana Through the Ages. (2016). A global history of marijuana, reaching back to its shamanic roots as an entheogen.


Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana. (2012). A comprehensive socio-political history of cannabis use from ancient to modern times and especially of cannabis prohibition in the United States. 


The Emperor Wears No Clothes. (1985). The authoritative history of cannabis hemp and its industrial uses. Available online here at the author's request.

Government Reports

The Official Report of the National Commission of Marihuana and Drug Abuse. (1972). Known informally as the Shafer Commission Report, after chairman Raymond P. Shafer, the report calls for the federal decriminalization of cannabis possession for personal use. President Richard M. Nixon appointed the Commission but refused to implement its recommendations.


The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York: Sociological, Medical, Psychological, and Pharmacological Studies. (1944). Known informally as the LaGuardia Committee Report, after NYC Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the report details the findings of the first comprehensive U.S. study into the sociological, psychological, and medical effects of smoking cannabis. The study finds the effects to have been exaggerated.


Mariajuana Smoking in Panama. (1933). Published in The Military Surgeon, the article reports the findings of two military committees appointed in 1925 and 1931 to investigate marijuana use in the Panama Canal Zone. Both committees found no evidence that cannabis is habit-forming or detrimental to its users. The report recommends that military regulations prohibiting possession of marijuana on military bases remain in place, as they were believed to restrict cannabis use among soldiers, but that no further legislative measures be taken to prohibit the sale or use thereof within the greater Panama Canal Zone.


Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission. (1894). At seven volumes and 3,281 pages, the report presents what is arguably the most comprehensive study of cannabis use to date. Relying on the testimonies of over a thousand individuals, including medical doctors and religious leaders, the authors provide insight into the smoking practices of Indians in the British provinces of India. The report concludes that cannabis prohibition is unnecessary and inexpedient.

Medical Publications

The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research (2017). Published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report offers a rigorous review of recent scientific research on the health impacts of cannabis and its derivatives.


Residual Effects of THC via Novel Measures of Brain Perfusion and metabolism in a Large Group of Chronic Cannabis Users. (2017). The study examines brain activity of cannabis users. Findings suggest that prolonged cannabis exposure leads to greater cerebral blood flow, oxygen extraction, and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen than in nonusers.


Medical Uses of Marijuana and Cannabinoids. (2016). Overview of published clinical studies that assess the therapeutic efficacy and safety of cannabis. Published in a Special Issue on Cannabis in the peer-reviewed journal Critical Reviews of Plant Sciences, the review identifies 140 controlled clinical studies since 1975.


Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. (2014). The study examines the relationship between medical cannabis laws and fatal opioid overdoses. States with medical cannabis laws were found to have a 25% lower opioid overdose mortality rate than states without medical cannabis laws.


PTSD Symptom Reports of Patients Evaluated for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program. (2014). The study analyzes the psychometric data on PTSD symptoms of patients applying to the NM Medical Cannabis Program, ultimately finding that patients score a 75% reduction in symptoms when using cannabis compared to when they are not.


Sequence of Drug Use among Serious Drug Users: Typical vs. Atypical Progression. (2001). The article examines the sequence of drug use among serious drug users and finds that cannabis does not act as a gateway drug for a majority of users. The authors conclude that prevention efforts that focus on alcohol and cannabis may actually do very little to prevent drug abuse among high risk teens.


The Therapeutic Potential of Marihuana. (1976). Proceedings from a conference on the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Reports and discusses the neurological, ophthalmic, pulmonary, antiemetic, analgesic, and antitumor effects of medical cannabis.


Marijuana: Medical Papers, 1839-1972. (1973). A comprehensive and authoritative collection of early primary-source medical papers on cannabis, compiled by N.I.M.H. researcher and reputed grandfather of the medical marijuana movement Dr. Tod Mikuriya.


On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah, (Cannabis Indica). (1843). The medical paper that introduced hemp extract to the world of Western medicine. W. B. O'Shaughnessy's research concludes that cannabis is a safe and effective narcotic, unequal in its power as a remedy for convulsions and neuralgia. 

Scholarly Articles

Crash Fatality Rates after Recreational Marijuana Legalization in Washington and Colorado. (2017). The study evaluates traffic fatality rates in the first two states to legalize adult-use cannabis and compares them with fatality rates in states without legalized adult-use cannabis. The study finds traffic fatality rates in Washington and Colorado did not vary from those in other states.


Going to Pot? The Impact of Dispensary Closures on Crime. (2017). The study examines the relationship between cannabis dispensaries and local crime. Contrary to popular argument, the presence of cannabis dispensaries within localities does not lead to increased crime; however, closing dispensaries leads to an immediate increase in crime around the dispensary site. The findings are consistent with the conclusions of a 2012 study.


Loose Regulation of Medical Marijuana Programs Associated with higher Rates of Adult Marijuana Use but Not Cannabis Use Disorder. (2017). The authors examine the frequency of cannabis use in states where medical marijuana laws have been enacted. The study finds no increase in the prevalence of cannabis use among adults, young adults, or adolescents in states where medical marijuana is legal.


Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study. (2016).  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an 25% increase in unadjusted crash risk among drivers who tested positive for THC. However, no increase in crash risk is associated with THC when analyses include adjustments for age, gender, and blood alcohol level. Research Note summary.


Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption. (2013). The study examines the relationship between legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities. Legalization is associated with a 10% decrease in traffic fatalities where alcohol is not involved and a 13% decrease in traffic fatalities where alcohol is involved.

Works of Cultural Significance

Parents, Peers and Pot. (1979). A parent-to-parent guide to forming anti-drug neighborhood groups.


The Marijuana Paradox. (1969). In this October '69 cover story, Life magazine devotes ten pages to the question of whether U.S. marijuana laws are morally justified.


The Great Marijuana Hoax. (1966). Penned by poet Allen Ginsberg, the article accuses the Narcotics Bureau of persecuting marijuana in the sole interest of departmental preservation and argues that marijuana is a "metaphysical herb . . . whose smoke is no more disruptive that Insight."

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