Marijuana's official designation as a Schedule 1 drug — something with "no accepted medical use" — means it is pretty tough to study.
Yet both a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports link cannabis with several health benefits, ranging from pain relief to helping with certain forms of epilepsy. In addition, researchers say there are many other potential ways marijuana might affect health that they want to understand better.
A massive new report released in January 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) helps sum up exactly what we know — and perhaps more importantly, what we don't — about the science of weed.
Based on the report and conversations with researchers, there are good reasons to think marijuana has potentially valuable medical uses. At the same time, we know that — like with any substance – not all use is risk free.
In order to figure out how to best treat the conditions that cannabis can help with and to minimize any risks associated with medical or recreational use, more study is needed.
That research is essential so that we know "how best we can use it, what are the safest ways, and what are the real risks," Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider.
Learn more about the drug's impacts