Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states. Surveys have shown that 85 to 95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical marijuana, and approximately 60 percent support legalizing marijuana. A 2014 survey found that 56 percent of physicians favor legalizing marijuana for medical use. This support is the highest with doctors who work with cancer and blood diseases. (1)
A major concern remains that marijuana is a Scheduled 1 controlled substance, making it on the same level as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. This makes it difficult for families to be able to utilize medical marijuana, and difficult for researchers to continue to explore treatment options. (1)
White House announces that they are lifting restrictions on medical marijuana research!
On June 23, 2015, an official announcement from the White House states that the government will be lifting restrictions on medical marijuana research. (2,3)
“The Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine,” stated, Mario Zepeda, a spokesperson for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2)
In order to participate in medical marijuana research, a scientist would have to submit a proposal to the Food and Drug Administration to review for scientific validity and ethics. Following this review, the Public Health Service would then conduct another review. If approved, the proposal would then be granted a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and receive a quantity of marijuana necessary for the research. (2)
With these restrictions, only 156 active proposals were approved, and the majority of these have been focused on the negative effects of using marijuana. This announcement comes after the US Surgeon General’s, Vivek Murthy, announcement that “marijuana can be helpful.” (2)
Changes will allow researchers to explore more health related topics with fewer restrictions!
Tom Angell, of Marijuana Majority, explains, “Given what the President and Surgeon General have already said publicly about marijuana’s relative harms and medical uses, it’s completely inappropriate for it to remain in a schedule that’s supposed to be reserved for substances for high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value.” (2)
These changes will help speed up marijuana research by removing the red tape of the Public Health Service review. Research only supports a small portion of good things that marijuana can do to help fight cancer, or improve mental well being and stress management. With this change, researchers may be able to explore these topics more in depth, and have fewer restrictions on research topics. (3)
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