The Top Cannabis Research Studies From 2020 (Updated for 2021)

Although there’s considerable scientific information around CBD, cannabis has over a hundred other compounds too. That’s why researchers focused on minor cannabinoids and terpenes during the last year. 

2020 has been a wild ride in many ways. If we look at the cannabis industry, there has been a significant rise in sales and demand. As the cannabis industry grows, so does the evidence around cannabis’ effectiveness as a therapeutic agent.

The 2020 cannabis news and CBD research have been exciting and interesting.

With multiple cannabis research conducted worldwide, we have unearthed a lot about this plant during the year.

Let’s recap some of the most crucial cannabis studies from 2020 and discuss the most promising studies conducted in 2021 so far.

Effect of Cannabis on Cognitive Functioning 

Till now, researchers have only examined the effect of cannabis on unrelated groups. Since these people come from different backgrounds and have varying living standards, the environmental impact can skew the results. 

However, the study conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine only used siblings as study subjects. The research investigated the effect of cannabis on the cognitive abilities of teenagers.

A man holding his head with his hand

A study published in Addiction is slightly different from all others of the sort since it shows that cannabis could have adverse effects on cognitive functioning. 

Since the researchers used siblings, they could easily rule out environmental and genetic factors as these are common among siblings. 

The researchers took 1192 teenagers from 596 different families. About 64% of the study subjects were male, and the whole group was ethnically diverse.

The results showed the positive association of differential cannabis use with poor cognitive functioning. Plus, the researchers saw an exceptionally high decline in verbal memory. 

This cannabis research can help policy-making in many ways since it shows a side of cannabis that is often veiled by the loud claims of the product’s therapeutic potential.

Drug Interaction Between Approved Drugs and CBD

A CBD research studied the risk of drug-drug interaction (DDIs) after the legalization of the use of medicinal cannabis. The research reported the adverse effects of the DDI between CBD and antiplatelet or antipsychotic medications.

However, more research is required to understand the DDI interaction to prevent harmful effects in the future.

Role of FAAH Inhibitors in Treating PTSD

The researchers are also trying to evaluate the effects of FAAH inhibitors to reduce the stress-induced response. It means the FAAH inhibition leads to enhanced anandamide levels, which can be effective in treating PTSD.

Impact of Cannabis on Driving Performance

Cannabis research conducted in 2021 compared the effects of CBD and THC on driving performance. Participants of the study included people between the age of 20 and 25 with at least ten years of prior experience of using cannabis.

The results showed a relatively increased steady lateral position (SDLP) in participants who received THC compared to placebo and CBD conditions. Thus, it concluded that CBD alone doesn’t impact driving performance. However, the effects of THC are worn out after 300 minutes.

Another secondary research finding showed a drastic reduction in driving confidence in THC and THC/CBD conditions.

To sum up, the research concluded a visible difference in the driving performance of the THC group, while the CBD group didn’t demonstrate any cognitive impairment.

Cannabis Testing through Saliva 

Although CBD is legal across America, pure cannabis use is still illegal. Marijuana may be a legal recreational drug in some regions, but you can’t use heavy machinery or vehicles when high. 

Therefore, authorities must determine if a driver is high on cannabis. A March 2020 study published in the American Chemical Society showed the possibility of determining a driver’s blood cannabis levels through their saliva. 

The findings show that it might be possible for the police to detect the presence of cannabis in a person’s blood. 

Possibly the best thing about this discovery is that these tests show results in just five minutes.

Negative Effects of Cannabis 

While cannabis’s popularity increased in 2020, it also seemed as if many studies were finding its side effects. For example, a March study conducted at Washington State University showed that CBD might have some risks, including coughing fits, paranoia, and anxiety. 

The CBD research subjects involved 1500 college students. Along with surveying them about the effects of cannabis, the study also considered personality traits and demographics. 

More than 750 students reported experiencing coughing fits after using cannabis. They also reported having paranoia and anxiety. 

Besides these, there were also some severe side effects, including cold sweats, fainting, and hallucinations – visual and non-auditory. 

In total, the researchers found 26 side effects. Vomiting, panic attacks, and passing out were the most distressing of them all. 

The least distressing side effects were instability, lack of balance, and humming sounds in the body. Moreover, researchers reported the following findings:

  • People who use cannabis less frequently are more likely to get side effects. 
  • Students who used cannabis to fit in with their social circle had higher anxiety sensitivity. 
  • Along with coughing fits, the study subjects also experience lung and chest discomfort. 

Since cannabis is now legal in Washington, this study could act as a helpful guide for youngsters and newbies to stay on the safer end of the spectrum when using cannabis.

Trending Tips on CBD Products

Increased Risk of Psychotic Symptoms

The cannabis research conducted earlier in 2021 concluded that an increased risk of psychotic symptoms in young people is associated with the regular use of cannabis that contains high delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the study is restricted to younger people and doesn’t deduce any symptoms in older adults who regularly use cannabis-based medicines.

Moreover, some random clinical trials were conducted in people aged 50 or above to find the correlation between negative neuropsychiatric effects and cannabis-based medicines.

The researcher collected data samples from the clinical trials of people with a median age of 58.2 years. These people were using THC-only as well as CBD and THC combination medications.

The results suggested a direct correlation between increased dizziness or lightheadedness and cannabis-based medications. Moreover, research also found a direct association of the thinking or perception disorder with cannabis-based medicines.

However, the results were inconclusive about the association of higher THC dose with adverse psychotic symptoms.

Cannabis for Treating Pain in Dogs and Humans 

Social media data shows that many people use cannabis products for pain relief in their pets and themselves. An October study investigated why people used these products and if cannabis-derived items lived up to their expectations.

The researchers collected self-report data online containing information about dog owners’ expectations and perceptions about using cannabis products for chronic pain. 

Here are the findings of this study:

  • The most popular motivation for people using cannabis was that it is natural and has fewer side effects than conventional medication. 
  • 86% of the users said that cannabis helped ease their pain, while 82% said that cannabis products were helpful for their dogs. 
  • As per the qualitative data, a decrease in pain and increased relaxation met the users’ expectations. 

The data also suggests that users could return to their everyday life routines after using cannabis products. 

Smoke-Free Cannabis Usage 

Researchers often have to face a slight dilemma when administering cannabis products because the quickest way to get results is through smoking. 

However, smoking also has hazardous effects on users, including respiratory decline. 

Published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, a 2020 study introduced a smokeless cannabis consumption system. It’s called the CannaHaler and has been developed by Kite-Systems. 

Cannabis bud and a cannabis plant next to each other

Twelve healthy adult subjects, included in the cannabis research subjects, were given a cannabis strain with 70% indica and 30% Sativa. Moreover, the strain had up to 22% THC and no CBD at all. 

To the researchers’ surprise, the smokeless cannabis consumption system, CannaHaler, did not have any adverse effects on any of the study subjects. 

Furthermore, the researchers conclude that this device could be used for administering medical cannabis.

Cannabis and Covid-19

In addition to finding the positive effects of cannabis to treat the physical and psychological symptoms, the researchers are trying to determine whether cannabis can reduce excessive inflammation of the respiratory system caused by the Covid-19.

This respirator inflammation leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). However, cannabis gives some hope to researchers, courtesy of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers didn’t use the human lungs; instead, they used a human 3D artificial tissue to replicate a human lung to study the effects of seven different types of cannabis extracts.

The good news is that the researchers found three out of seven extracts to be effective in reducing cytokine activity. Consequently, cannabis was able to relieve severe respiratory inflammation.

Moreover, CBD products derived from hemp effectively reduce stress, panic, and other anxiety issues. A unique clinical trial will be conducted in 2021 to determine the effects of CBD oil to treat panic attacks.


As the cannabis news shows, 2020 has been a good year for the plant. On the one hand, the market around cannabis spiked during the pandemic, while, on the other hand, the rate of scientific CBD research also increased. 

After passing the Farm Bill 2018, researchers have more liberty to conduct cannabis research on this plant. The cumulative conclusion from major 2020 and 2021 studies is that cannabis might be effective against specific ailments, but it’s not risk-free – as it was previously claimed to be.

Moreover, the latest trials conducted in 2021 also highlight the potential of CBD medications to reduce respiratory inflammation caused by the global pandemic.

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