Cannabis Science in 2020: Increase in Publication of Scientific Studies

Written by Asia Mayfield

Scientific journals published approximately 3,500 cannabis research studies in 2020, continuing a trend that has been underway for more than a decade. These data were based on a query of studies listed by the National Library of Medicine through the database.

The number of reputable cannabis studies published every year in fact has risen exponentially since 2000, according to a 2018 study.[1] Many suspect that this growth is attributable to wider access to cannabis and increased interest in the plant’s therapeutic potential.

“The results of the present study demonstrate an ongoing increase in the number of publications related to cannabis in general and to medical cannabis in particular,” the research team wrote in 2018. “The spike in medical publications on medical cannabis…is impressive and encouraging.”[1]

Their team discovered that, of all publications from 2000 to 2018, the majority of published cannabis research was related to psychiatry, neurology, and oncology. The greatest number of publications focused on cannabinoids and HIV, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting, and epilepsy. The bulk of these studies were conducted by researchers in the US and Canada.[1]

“It is noteworthy that the significant growth in the number of publications on medical cannabis since 2013 parallels legislation permitting the use of recreational cannabis in the states of Washington and Colorado in 2012 and in Alaska and Oregon in 2014, and subsequently in many other countries around the world,” the team noted.

Interest in cannabis, particularly in its therapeutic potential, continues to rise. Although there has been a huge jump in the amount of knowledge available, there are still many questions left to be answered.

Further study may illuminate cannabis’ enormous potential for therapeutic applications.

Image Credit: Nick Youngson

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  1. Treister-Goltzman Y, et al. Trends in publications on medical cannabis from the year 2000. Popul Health Manag. 2019;22(4):362-368.

About the author

Asia Mayfield

Asia Mayfield is a freelance writer who focuses on the cannabis industry. She can be reached at