Record Number Of Scientific Papers On Cannabis Published In 2021

Have you ever heard politicians say that there needs to be more research on cannabis or that we need to understand it better before we can legalise it?  

Well, now that is legal in a few places, scientists are finally giving it the attention it deserves. And that is evident in new research that found a record number of scientific papers on cannabis have been published this year.

According to research carried out by NORML, who performed a keyword search of the National Library of Medicine/ website, over 3,800 scientific papers on cannabis have been published in peer-reviewed journals during the first 11 months of 2021. 

That beats 2020’s record of just over 3,500+ papers published on cannabis. 

Increased scientific interest in cannabis

In a statement, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: 

“Despite claims by some that marijuana has yet to be subject to adequate scientific scrutiny, scientists’ interest in studying cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, as has our understanding of the plant, its active constituents, their mechanisms of action, and their effects on both the user and upon society.” 

“It is time for politicians and others to stop assessing cannabis through the lens of ‘what we don’t know’ and instead start engaging in evidence-based discussions about marijuana and marijuana reform policies that are indicative of all that we do know.”

Previous research

During the 1980s, there were less than 2,000 papers on cannabis published in scientific journals. The 90s saw a slight increase to just below 3,000. 

Since 2010, however, scientists have published an estimated 27,000 peer-reviewed papers specific to cannabis, with the annual number of total papers increasing every year. 

A 2018 paper that looked at trends in cannabis research concluded that cannabis’ therapeutic applications were driving the increase in scientific interest.

In all, now cites over 38,500 scientific papers on cannabis (and/or marijuana).

2021 cannabis developments

Malta has legalised recreational cannabis. Germany has announced they’re doing the same. Another five US states, including New York, have also passed laws to legalise recreational cannabis. 

In the UK, where medical cannabis has been legal since late 2018, more and more people are accessing cannabis for medical conditions, although many still can’t. 


It’s not true that we don’t know enough about cannabis. We know plenty, and research on the plant is growing fast, with 2021 seeing the most scientific papers published on cannabis in one year.

Thanks to this accumulation of knowledge, we are now in a position to have evidence-based discussions around the subject of cannnabis.

So tell your parents, your neighbours and your friends: cannabis isn’t some mysterious drug. While it’s powerful and can be abused, it also holds so much therapeutic potential while being relatively safe for most people.  

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