With marijuana becoming legal in more states, people have begun to use cannabis for what are essentially therapeutic reasons – to help with sleep, anxiety or nausea, for example. A story today explores marijuana’s potential for treating chronic pain. Written by University of Washington pharmacologist Benjamin Land, the article explains how the two primary cannabinoids in marijuana plants – THC and CBD – affect the brain to reduce pain, and how they can be combined with existing opioids for pain management. Land predicts marijuana’s “use in medicine will undoubtedly grow exponentially.”

One of the most widely read science articles this past week explains research that finds a link between the gut microbiome and rheumatoid arthritis. Immunology researcher Meagan Chriswell from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus writes about how she and her colleagues discovered a previously unknown species of intestinal bacteria that is present in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The COP27 climate conference begins in Egypt next week, and one topic expected to take center stage is compensation from richer countries to poorer ones for the economic impacts of climate change. Bethany Tietjen, a research fellow in climate policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, explains the discussion around what’s called “loss and damage” and why it’s so contentious. “Negotiators know that the idea of payments for loss and damage has the potential to lead to further discussions about financial compensation for historical injustices, such as slavery in the United States or colonial exploitation by European powers,” she writes.

Also in this week’s science news:

Martin La Monica

Director of Editorial Projects and Newsletters

The cannabis plant produces both THC – the psychoactive component in marijuana – and the compound commonly known as CBD, which does not lead to a ‘high.’ Jena Ardell/Moment via Getty Images

Cannabis holds promise for pain management, reducing the need for opioid painkillers – a neuropharmacology expert explains how

Benjamin Land, University of Washington

Studies suggest that marijuana and CBD use might help relieve chronic pain while also reducing a patient’s need for opioids.

Rheumatoid arthritis leads to painful joint inflammation, often in the hands and wrists. Peter Dazeley/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Newly discovered species of bacteria in the microbiome may be a culprit behind rheumatoid arthritis

Meagan Chriswell, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

A new species of bacteria that doesn’t normally live in the gut may trigger an immune response so strong that it spreads to the joints.

Extreme flooding in Pakistan in 2022 affected 33 million people. Akram Shahid/AFP via Getty Images

Loss and damage: Who is responsible when climate change harms the world’s poorest countries, and what does compensation look like?

Bethany Tietjen, Tufts University

That’s the big question at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, and it’s controversial. Here are some of the ideas being floated.

The White House’s ‘AI Bill of Rights’ outlines five principles to make artificial intelligence safer, more transparent and less discriminatory

Christopher Dancy, Penn State

Many AI algorithms, like facial recognition software, have been shown to be discriminatory to people of color, especially those who are Black.

A blood test that screens for multiple cancers at once promises to boost early detection

Colin Pritchard, University of Washington

Multicancer early detection tests are among the priorities of the Biden administration’s Cancer Moonshot. The tests show promise, but questions remain about when and how to use them.

Who sees what you flush? Wastewater surveillance for public health is on the rise, but a new survey reveals many US adults are still unaware

Rochelle H. Holm, University of Louisville

Public health officials monitor sewage in local communities to track COVID, polio, flu and more. But no one asks the people being monitored for their permission – raising some questions and concerns.

With over-the-counter birth control pills likely to be approved, pharmacists and pharmacies could play an ever-increasing role in reproductive health care

Lucas Berenbrok, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences; Marian Jarlenski, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences

Some states already allow pharmacists to provide birth control to patients with a prescription. But FDA approval of an over-the-counter birth control pill could greatly expand access.

Fetterman’s struggles with language highlight the challenges after a stroke – a vascular neurologist explains aphasia and the path to recovery

Andrew M. Southerland, University of Virginia

Auditory processing disorders and aphasia can make spoken speech difficult to produce and understand. But these challenges alone do not imply cognitive impairments.

Emperor penguins get Endangered Species Act protection – with 98% of colonies at risk of extinction by 2100, can it save them?

Stephanie Jenouvrier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Emperor penguins survive in a ‘Goldilocks zone’ between too much sea ice and too little. Climate change is having an impact.