In light of the widespread availability of legal cannabis, Oregon Health & Science University today launched a new web-based tool designed to help clinicians and researchers evaluate the latest evidence around the health effects of cannabis.
The site – cannabisevidence.org – is intended as an up-to-date resource synthesizing research and health effects of cannabis.
Known as the Systematically Testing the Evidence on Marijuana, or STEM, the project is a joint production of researchers with OHSU’s Center for Evidence-based Policy and the VA Portland Health Care System.
“Providers have not become familiar with the health effects of cannabis,” said principle investigator Devan Kansagara, M.D., M.C.R., professor of medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine and a staff physician at the Portland VA. “That’s partly because we’ve lacked the evidence we like to see when recommending treatments to patients, and partly because of a lack of familiarity with terminology and practical issues about cannabis.
“The STEM site could help providers feel more comfortable discussing cannabis and help normalize conversations, similar to the process we have become so familiar with when talking to patients about alcohol use.”
The new website is designed as an independent, methodologically rigorous resource primarily for health care workers.
The site features living systematic reviews that examine and update evidence about specific cannabis-related topics, such as treatment of chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, exposure during pregnancy and cannabis use disorder. It includes a series of short, focused pieces called clinician briefs, which feature topics like cannabis for chronic pain or cannabis as a substitute for opioids in patients with chronic pain.
The site will also include patient-facing material in the future.
For researchers, the site includes a customized, searchable interface with ClinicalTrials.com to help quickly search specific cannabis-related products. This could be especially useful for researchers applying for a grant or designing a study.
Funding for this project is provided by the VA Office of Rural Health. Researchers or clinicians with questions or feedback should email the project team at [email protected].