Thanks to Paul Armentano for his proper take-down of the ignorant comment so often floated out there — that we just don’t know that much about marijuana.
Speaking recently with the Los Angeles Times, UCLA professor and former Washington state “pot czar” Mark Kleiman implied that we as a society are largely ignorant when it comes to the subject of weed. Speaking with Times columnist Patt Morrison, Kleiman stated, “I keep saying we don’t know nearly as much about cannabis as Pillsbury knows about brownie mix.”
Kleiman’s allegation—that the marijuana plant and its effects on society still remains largely a mystery—is a fairly common refrain. But it is far from accurate.
Despite the US government’s nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, nearly half of which were published within the last five years according to a keyword search on PubMed Central, the US government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research. Over 1,450 peer-reviewed papers were published in 2013 alone.
We know plenty about cannabis. We know more about cannabis than most (if not all) FDA-approved drugs, despite their vaunted exclusive process (which often has as much to do with politics and money as science).
The ‘we don’t know enough’ argument is used to delay or dilute legalization efforts (I would place Kleiman’s comments in the “dilute” category, formerly “delay”), and, in some cases, it is merely short for “I won’t be satisfied with any amount or type of studies until we find one that proves cannabis is bad.” (Sabet would probably be an example of that.)