Government Approves Medical Marijuana Research

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  Government Approves Medical Marijuana Research

Posted by CN Staff on March 14, 2014 at 19:02:21 PT
By Evan Halper and Cindy Carcamo  
Source: Los Angeles Times 

Washington, D.C. -- The Obama administration handed backers of medical marijuana a significant victory Friday, opening the way for a University of Arizona researcher to examine whether pot can help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress, a move that could lead to broader studies into potential benefits of the drug.For years, scientists who have wanted to study how marijuana might be used to treat illness say they have been stymied by resistance from federal drug officials.
The Arizona study had long ago been sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration, but under federal rules, such experiments can use marijuana only from a single, government-run farm in Mississippi. Researchers say the agency that oversees the farm, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has long been hostile to proposals aimed at examining possible benefits of the drug."This is a great day," said the Arizona researcher, Suzanne A. Sisley, clinical assistant professor of psychology at the university's medical school, who has been trying to get the green light for her study for three years. "The merits of a rigorous scientific trial have finally trumped politics."We never relented," Sisley said. "But most other scientists have chosen not to even apply. The process is so onerous. With the implementation of this study and the data generated, this could lead to other crucial research projects."Backers of medical marijuana hailed the news as an indication that the government had started coming to terms with one of the more striking paradoxes of federal drug policy: Even as about 1 million Americans are using marijuana legally to treat ailments, scientists have had difficulty getting approval to study how the drug might be employed more effectively."The political dynamics are shifting," said Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Assn. for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, a group based in Santa Cruz that is raising money to help fund studies such as Sisley's. The group counts several prominent philanthropists among its backers, including two Pritzkers and a Rockefeller.Government officials said the approval did not represent a change in underlying policy — just a recognition that Sisley's proposal meets official standards for research using illegal drugs. The research still requires approval of one more agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, but Sisley and Doblin expressed confidence that that would prove a lesser hurdle.In its letter approving the application, a government review panel noted what it called "significant changes" in the study that justified approving it now. Doblin said the changes did not affect the "core design" of the study.Federal restrictions on pot research have been a source of tension for years. Researchers, marijuana advocates and some members of Congress have accused the National Institute on Drug Abuse of hoarding the nation's only sanctioned research pot for studies aimed at highlighting the drug's ill effects. They had pointed to Sisley's experience as a prime example of what they called an irrational and disjointed federal policy."You have impossible burdens," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who has enlisted other members of Congress to lobby the administration to give researchers more access to the drug."These are not people who are going to be involved with some clandestine production of the drug or do something nefarious. They are trying to do scientific research that will add to the body of knowledge and safety," he said.Blumenauer likes to recount the story of a doctor who works with children who have violent epileptic seizures. The children's parents "have found that the use of marijuana has reduced the frequency and intensity of these horrific episodes. But because of our stupid research policies, it is easier for the parent to get medical marijuana than for a researcher," he said.Scientists say more research could help determine more precisely which ailments the drug can treat and could eventually lead to regulation by the FDA as a prescription drug. That would allow patients to know what they are consuming. Currently, users of medical marijuana often have little information about the potency and purity of the pot they buy. Physicians who prescribe the drug do so on the basis of evidence that is largely anecdotal.At the core of the debate is an issue that has implications for both research and the movement to legalize marijuana for recreational use, as Colorado and Washington have done. Currently, federal law classifies pot as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine. As a "Schedule 1" drug, marijuana is designated as having "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," as well as being a drug that puts users at risk of "severe psychological or physical dependence."Researchers say that classification needs to change for science to proceed uninhibited. Making the change, though, would be a retreat in the war on drugs. The Obama administration could reschedule the drug without congressional action, but has shown no inclination to wade into that fight.In the last 10 years, the government had approved just one U.S. research center to conduct clinical trials involving marijuana use for medical purposes — a UC San Diego facility created by the California Legislature.The scientist who runs that center, Igor Grant, said his success in getting Washington's sign-off was due in large part to something other scientists do not have: the full force of the state. Blocking his work would have been a direct affront to lawmakers in Sacramento, he noted.Grant's studies looked at such questions as whether pot could help ease the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatment or the severe appetite suppression experienced by those with HIV, which causes AIDS."Every one of those studies showed, in the short term, a beneficial effect," Grant said. "There is very good evidence cannabis is helpful."Halper reported from Washington and Carcamo from Tucson.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:   Evan Halper and Cindy Carcamo Published: March 14, 2014Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite:  Medical Marijuana Archives 

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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 16, 2014 at 12:11:06 PT
Thank you.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by runruff on March 16, 2014 at 09:36:05 PT
She's a family member! "Fergitaboutit!"
We have lost quite a few of our little fur endowed kids. It hurts as much as losing any other family member. We are so sorry! 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 16, 2014 at 08:42:39 PT
We are sad too. She was fine and then she just went down hill fast. Our boy Moose really is grieving for her. She was his best friend. He slept outside her empty crate last night even though he could have slept in the living room and been more comfortable.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by Hope on March 16, 2014 at 07:38:37 PT
Comment 11
Oh no! I loved that Sassy. From a distance, but I loved her. What a great dog she was. I'm so sad, and I'm so sorry, FoM. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by FoM on March 15, 2014 at 17:57:50 PT
Thank you. She really had a good life right up until the last few days. I know you understand. As far as the flu we are getting better and should be fine in no time. Spring will help. Sunshine and no sub zero temperatures and blizzards. Yippie.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by BGreen on March 15, 2014 at 16:52:24 PT
I'm Sorry, FoM
I'm sorry you're still not feeling well and especially about Sassy. I know all too well how much that hurts.Bud
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #12 posted by afterburner on March 15, 2014 at 12:47:44 PT

"the 'canvas' can do miracles"
 Christopher Cross -Sailing Lyrics {
Well, it's not far down to paradise, at least it's not for meAnd if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquilityOh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and seeBelieve me
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 15, 2014 at 12:34:24 PT

We're doing OK. We still have the flu and 2 days ago we had to have our 13 year old rescue named Sassy put to sleep. She went down fast and lived a great life so for that we are happy. We will pick up her ashes on Monday. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #10 posted by BGreen on March 15, 2014 at 11:17:21 PT

You're welcome, FoM
How are you feeling?Bud
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 15, 2014 at 10:55:03 PT

I didn't know that. Thank you.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #8 posted by BGreen on March 15, 2014 at 09:55:22 PT

FoM re: post #7
Actually, right now possession of under 35 grams is a misdemeanor here in MO but possession of any other schedule I through V substance without a prescription is a felony. The punishment already doesn't fit the scheduling. Cannabis needs to be unscheduled and nobody should ever go to jail for cannabis.The Reverend Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 15, 2014 at 05:05:49 PT

Schedule II or III Maybe
The penalties would drop I would think if Cannabis was rescheduled.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 15, 2014 at 05:04:20 PT

I hope so.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by The GCW on March 15, 2014 at 05:01:50 PT

Government lies.
"Currently, federal law classifies pot as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine. As a "Schedule 1" drug, """-0-US NV: PUB LTE: Lies Lead To AddictionRe "Drug Prohibition Fuels Society's Ills," Feb. 20 ): Cannabis ( marijuana ) prohibition and its conspirers increase hard-drug addiction rates. Government claims heroin is no worse than cannabis and that methamphetamine and cocaine are less harmful by insisting cannabis is a Schedule I substance alongside heroin, while methamphetamine and cocaine are only Schedule II substances. How many citizens tried cannabis and realized it is not nearly as dangerous as claimed and believed other substances must not be either only to find themselves addicted to hard drugs? Can the message from cannabis prohibitionists be any worse for vulnerable citizens?
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Comment #4 posted by BGreen on March 14, 2014 at 23:04:44 PT

More Mississippi Schwag Weed
The government has been 100% effective in stymieing cannabis research by providing ineffective crap weed instead of quality medical cannabis. That is a huge reason why most government sanctioned cannabis research is inconclusive or deems cannabis ineffective.Taking ground up leaves and stems and spraying that with THC does NOT create medical cannabis. This needs to be noted and proclaimed from the mountain tops when this "research" doesn't turn out the way we know it should.There are known strains of cannabis that are effective in treating PTSD. Those strains should be analyzed and used in this research.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #3 posted by Canis420 on March 14, 2014 at 20:52:31 PT:

If the study shows Cannabis has efficacy for PTSD it could lead to re-classification
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 14, 2014 at 19:32:37 PT

The Letter from HHS
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 14, 2014 at 19:05:22 PT

What Does This Mean?
Will they have to reschedule now?
[ Post Comment ]

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