Cannabis is increasingly being researched in various capacities. When the research is published and made available to the public, those unfamiliar with research can find it confusing with all the different terminology, approaches, and significance. In order for you to better understand the many types of cannabis research, this guide has been put together for your convenience.
Why is Cannabis Research Needed?
The online Oxford dictionary defines research as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions”. When this general definition of research is applied to the field of cannabis it is safe to assume that it includes any form of research on the substance which would provide us with facts and insight.
ETU explains that “research is the organized and systematic method of finding answers to questions”. They go on to explain that research is systematic since the process is broken up into clear stages and steps in order to answer or find facts to support, particular questions, such as whether cannabis is effective for fighting cancer. The researchers need to have a plan in place before conducting their research, which will indicate what they are trying to achieve, which methods will be employed, and which questions would be most relevant and useful in their quest. ETU states that “if there are no questions, there can be no research”. Fortunately, there are many questions surrounding cannabis.
Since cannabis has been the victim of much propaganda and stigmatization, research providing concrete evidence appears to be the only thing that can completely undo the damage done to its reputation as a gateway and recreational drug with no medical efficacy. Fortunately, there is enough research available now to prove that those assumptions are not founded in facts but rather opinion. That being said, let’s have a look at the different types of research as well as their significance.
The Power of Research
Since the primary reason for research is to answer questions by finding facts and reaching new conclusions, the significance of research lies in what it allows us to do. Research allows us to find and provide facts that would help us better understand a concern or problem related to cannabis, test and analyze the feasibility and impact of cannabis programs as well as identify better solutions to challenges.
As stated above, research can provide enough facts and conclusions to reduce the stigmatization which was previously placed on cannabis. This means that one of the most commonly undervalued benefits of researching cannabis is that the research plays an important role in winning support. Cannabis research increases support for the cause through the provision of facts and conclusions which strengthens arguments in favor of benefiting from its therapeutic potential. This is very important if we wish to see a day where cannabis has been removed from harsh drug scheduling and if we wish to see it become part of everyday treatment practices by professionals.
Based on what ETU states, the following can be seen as the sum of the significance of research:
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- Confirming what we think we are already sure of.
- Giving views and arguments some substance.
- Giving new information.
- Guiding on what will most likely address the issue most successfully.
- Provides anecdotes and examples of use.
- Allowing one to make cost-benefit arguments.
- Gaining support and providing consumers with what they need to know.
Different Types of Cannabis Research
The following types of research were selected to provide you with a foundation for understanding research. While there are more research and study types out there, these types, sourced from DiscoverPhDs, are the ones you would most likely encounter in the field of cannabis.
- Theoretical Research: This type is focused on generating knowledge and is a very basic form of research. This type of research disregards practical application and aims only to get a better understanding.
- Applied Research: This research type aims to find strategies to address a question by generating practical and scientific knowledge. This type of research is commonly used in STEM fields according to DiscoverPhDs, which then makes sense as to why this type of research is one of the most commonly used for understanding the cannabis plant and its components.
- Exploratory Research: This type of research is used in preliminary phases since it is most commonly used for subject matter that is not well understood… such as cannabis. Much of the earlier research on cannabis thus belongs to this type of research as it sought to establish a frame of reference and to generate hypotheses.
- Explanatory Research: Explanatory research seeks to establish cause-and-effect relationships, such as the effects of consuming cannabis. This type of research is closely linked to descriptive research since it aims to provide more descriptive insight into the subject matter at hand through the cause-and-effect relationships.
- Descriptive Research: This type of research aims to do exactly what the name suggests, to describe and define the characteristics of the subject matter, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds.
- Correctional Research: This type of research is used to identify whether there is a relationship between two or more variables, such as the relationship between cannabis consumption and whether it leads to consuming other drugs.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Qualitative research aims to use the social sciences to “collect, compare and interpret information”, while quantitative research aims to use “mathematical, statistical and computer-aided tools” to collect and measure the data.
- Experimental Research: This type of research can be seen used when trying to replicate the cannabinoids in a laboratory as experimental research is concerned with “designing or replicating a phenomenon” that can be manipulated in controlled environments.
- Non-Experimental Research: Observational study, or non-experimental research, focuses on analyzing data in its natural context. Researchers are not allowed to directly intervene or affect the natural context, which often limits involvement and makes it good to use in descriptive research.
- Diachronic Research: Longitudinal Study, or diachronic research, is used to monitor the same event, individual, or group over a period of time, such as monitoring patients 3-months after their cannabis treatment trial.
The data necessary for conducting research can be accessed through:
- the cabinet which is when a review of existing sources is done
- the field which is when data is directly collected from where it is observed
- a controlled environment which is when data is collected in an isolated location such as a laboratory
- a combination of the cabinet, the field, and/or the controlled environment.
Different Types of Studies are Incorporated into Research
While there are many different types of research, there are also different types of studies that should be made known since they are often incorporated into the various research types. These include randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies.
Randomized controlled trials are experimental forms of impact evaluation where participants are randomly assigned to an experimental group or a control group in order to differentiate between the two groups UNICEF explains. This helps to establish where the substance in question is effective or falls to the placebo effect.
Cohort studies are used to “investigate the causes of disease and to establish links between risk factors and health outcomes”, according to Medical News Today.
A case-control study is an observational one that helps to establish whether “exposure is associated with an outcome”. Lastly, a cross-sectional study looks at data from a population at one point in time and then analyzes the prevailing characteristics in that population.
Research can be complicated to decipher, we hope that this guide will help make it easier for you. We have also done our best to make the research we include in our articles easier to understand and we hope that you reach out if you have any other questions which would aid you on your journey.
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