California Patients Pay Price as Feds Admit Prohibition Has Hampered Research Efforts

As we discussed in a recent blog post, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been obstructing research into the benefits of medical marijuana for decades. By limiting the supply of FDA approved marijuana for medical research and testing conducted by private agencies, evaluating the plant’s therapeutic potential is much more difficult than it needs to be. vancouver-hemp-rally-1-jpg-407664-m.jpg

According to the San Diego Free Press, a federal health official recently admitted that the prohibition against medical marijuana has harmed the ability to conduct effective research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Unfortunately, this has in turn made it more difficult for advocates of medical marijuana to get federal laws changed to make medical marijuana legal.

The federal government continues to maintain outdated laws and policies on marijuana use even as most states have moved towards legalization and public opinion has overwhelmingly changed in favor of legalizing medicinal marijuana. Those who face criminal action from the federal government despite the fact that marijuana is legal in their state need to call a medical marijuana defense attorneyfor help protecting their rights.

Health Official Admits Prohibition Harms Research

The director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, admitted before Congress that clinical studies of marijuana’s medicinal effects have been impeded by prohibition. Her testimony was given before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. The purpose of the testimony was to speak about a recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine in which she spent a lot of time defending the agency’s restrictions on cannabis-related clinical research.

Federal law requires that all clinical protocols involving cannabis use cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi if humans will be ingesting the cannabis. The marijuana to be used in the study must come from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). There are no similar restrictions for any other kind of drug, including LSD, heroin and other schedule I controlled substances. For all other substances, clinical investigators can obtain the drug they are studying from any privately funded manufacturer that is federally licensed.

Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly asked about the fact that the NIDA has a monopoly on the production of marijuana for FDA-approved research, and has had such a monopoly since 1976. The NIDA spokeswoman admitted this was true only of this particular scheduled drug and her only justification when asked about the rationale for this decision was that “you want to be able to have control over the material that you’re providing for research.”

Of course, as the Representative questioning Volkow pointed out, the same is true for other drugs that are the subject of research. The research on medical marijuana should be able to be conducted in an unbiased way and the NIDA has a different mission than the goal of those who want to pursue medical research about the beneficial effects of marijuana.

Since the NIDA’s purpose of limiting drug use seems at odds with research that could result in more widespread use of marijuana, it seems clear that something needs to change. As the San Diego Free Press states, “Now that Congress is aware of the problem, the bigger question remains: What, if anything, are they going to do about it?”

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

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