A new British review on cannabis research has found that the majority of studies only investigate the effects of cannabis on men, not women.
A team from the University of York, led by Ian Hamilton, decided to look at the research on cannabis to try and understand the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia.
While the study found that “the evidence for cannabis acting as a causal factor for schizophrenia has so far not been established”, the scientists did stumble upon a big problem in the research.
They found there was a massive “gender bias” within cannabis research, in that most studies only looked at male cannabis users and not female. Therefore, very little is known about how cannabis use may affect women.
“Research is letting women down,” Hamilton told the Daily Mail.
“The research to date is completely biased towards men, a situation not helped by men being in control of this research.“
“We should be spending research money on improving the information we have about the risk women face when using cannabis.”
“Research needs to extend beyond males,” he continues.
Why is there a gender bias?
The reason for the discrepancy in male/female subject for cannabis studies may come down to the fact that researchers often use people who in treatment for cannabis addiction, and they are mostly male, for whatever reason.
Hamilton explains: “For researchers, it’s a lot of easier to get people in treatment because they are already there. But the problem of doing that is there are more men in treatment than women, so this is also added to this distorted view of cannabis and psychosis. We don’t know enough about young women.”
He also claims that the sex of the researchers may play a role in the gender bias.
“In effect, there are too many male researchers observing male cannabis users. If you had some females in senior positions guiding research, they would bring a woman’s perspective to it.”