Why Isn’t There More Medical Marijuana Research? Because The Feds Won’t Allow It, That’s Why!

It’s the ‘Catch-22’ that has plagued medical marijuana advocates and patients for decades. Lawmakers and health regulators demand clinical studies on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, but the federal agency in charge of such research bars these investigations from ever taking place.
But it took until now for the federal government to finally admit it.
A spokesperson for the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) told The New York Times last week that the agency does “not fund research focused on the potential medical benefits of marijuana.”
Why is this admission so significant? Here’s why.
Under federal law, NIDA (along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana. NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot – which is authorized via a NIDA contract and cultivated and stored at the University of Mississippi.
In short, no NIDA approval = no marijuana = no scientific studies. And that is, and always has been, the problem.
But to the folks over at NIDA, there’s no problem at all.
Speaking to The New York Times in a January 19, 2010 article entitled, “Researchers Find Medical Study of Marijuana Discouraged,” NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson said: “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
Since NIDA presently oversees an estimated 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances, the agency’s ban on medical marijuana research isn’t just limited to the United States’ borders; it extends throughout the planet.
Previous legal attempts to break NIDA’s bureaucratic logjam have failed to weaken the agency’s iron grip.
In 2007, U.S. DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that NIDA’s monopolization of marijuana research is not “in the public interest,” and ordered the federal government to allow private manufacturers to produce the drug for research purposes. But in January of last year, DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart set aside Judge Bittner’s ruling — stating that NIDA possesses “adequate” quantities of cannabis to meet the needs of clinical investigators, and that the agency monopoly on the distribution of marijuana for research is compliant with America’s international treaty obligations. (Notably, on January 26, 2010 President Barack Obama selected Leonhart to be the DEA’s full time Director.)
Most recently, in November 2009 the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health declared, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”
However, the Council lamented that despite these encouraging preliminary results, “[T]here is a contrast between the relatively small number of patients who have been studied over the past 30 years in controlled clinical trials involving smoked cannabis and survey data from patients with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that indicates a significant use of cannabis for self management.”
And just what is the precise reason for this “contrast?” The AMA failed to specify, but to anyone who has followed this issue, the answer is painfully obvious.
Nevertheless, the AMA still resolved, “[The] AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”
But since any future clinical trials would still require NIDA approval — approval that the agency admits won’t be coming any time soon — it remains unclear what effect, if any, the AMA’s declaration will have on facilitating medical marijuana research. If history is any guide, it’s unlikely that the AMA request — much like the cries of tens of thousands of patients before it — will have any effect on NIDA at all.
[FYI… You can also comment on this essay on Alternet.org’s newly launched SpeakEasy blog here or on the Huffington Post here.]

0 thoughts

  1. I can easily tell you why they dont do anymore research. The people in power, which isnt obama believe people shouldnt be free to do what they want. they want to inslave us all or kill us all. We will never be free as long as we do not revolt!

  2. The idea that NIDA should be in control of who studies this substance is a total conflict of interest. They have no reason to allow any study as it would produce results that would endanger their very existence. The truth is it would reduce the need for the DEA and the NIDA. They wouldn’t allow studies in the past and they certainly won’t be allowing any in the future. I say fuck them. The states that have medical cannabis should begin their own studies at state run universities that have adequate research facilities like USC and UCLA.

  3. That is the last straw! Obama appointed the bitch that Bushies put in there? Just goes to show, same shit, different president. If I would have voted for Ron Paul I wouldn’t feel so betrayed right now.
    Obama, go to hell and please take the other 80% of your weak-ass politicians with you! Your State of the Union address won’t be on in my house.

  4. We here at Montana Biotech are about patients and caregivers doing their own research for now. The feds will not move until they have to.
    We offer cannabis potency testing to help patients and caregivers determine what variety is best for them! We need more peer reviewed research, but until then building a patient/caregiver knowledge base is as close as we can get.
    Montana Biotech wants to see more people interested in making there cannabis use legitimate. One way of doing this is to test medical cannabis for potency and purity. And, make the info available to patients.

  5. What do you expect from the Federal government?! They’ve been lying to us for years? Who do u think killed the Kennedys and Martin Luther King and put George Wallace in a wheelchair?! And don’t give me that “lone nut” theory, Oswald, Sirhan and Bremer were “Manchurian Candidates”! And James Earl Ray was set up!

  6. “In short, no NIDA approval = no marijuana = no scientific studies”.
    It’s not only the funding, but the supply of marijuana as well. You can’t even grow your own supply for research, even if you think that the NIDA supply is schwag. Just ask Dr. Lyle Craker.
    …NIDA spokeswoman Shirley Simson said: “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
    So there we have it. NIDA research is purposely skewed for the goverment’s prohibition agenda, but if you want to prove the government wrong, you’re screwed. Skewed and screwed. Just when you thought the purpose of scientific research was to find the truth….

  7. Companies should be able to get cannabis from a designated medical supplier from another country. From Canada maybe do joint research with a Canadian University with their own supply. do they not consider studies from other countries?
    [Paul Armentano responds: Good idea in theory. Unfortunately U.S. law dictates that any marijuana imported into the U.S. for research purposes requires a DEA-approved “import license,” which the DEA needless to say, will not sign.]

  8. It still amazes me how much the general public do NOT know about a wide variety of subject matters. It appears to me, that for the most part, once people get out of “school” and enter life they just live day in and day out monotonously, believing the BS they were taught during their “education”.
    Rarely do we think anymore, because if we did, we’d question a helluva lot more things then just the insane war our government has waged on a plant named cannabis.
    Ignorance is bliss, the government COUNTS ON IT with the life they have forced upon us with the society they have created. The one that values worthless paper over and above anything else. What good is that paper we call money if you REALLY think about it…

  9. anyone who says we “need more study”, before we can move forward is a liar !!!
    last i heard, there are now over 17,000 valid, truthfull studies, worldwide,
    all in OUR FAVOR !! (pro-pot)
    the gov’t goes to great lengths to ignore / hide these facts.
    and the very few negative “studies” are just DEA PROPAGANDA, “gutter science”, that either is flawed from the start, or can’t be replicated.
    you can’t spell “DEAD” without “DEA”.

  10. So wait. Hypothetically speaking, could marijuana still be legalized without approval of the NIDA?
    [Paul Armentano responds: Marijuana can’t be studied in a research setting without NIDA approval. Marijuana could be legalized by an act of Congress.]

  11. The high rollers in the Fed are under the direct order of the Illumanati cult. It can’t be proven YET but rest assured, IT IS THE TRUTH. The Illumanati is a very very ancient satanic cult although ask any member and they will deny it. Their knowledge of marijuana’s benefits is thousands and thousands of years old. Infact, there are only two reasons why they do not want it legalized.
    1) The FED and their various under agencies specialize in control of the black market and they make far more off pot being illegal then they ever would if it was legalized. A billion dollars in revenue is chump change compared to what they already make. It’s as simple as confiscating large quantities of drugs and recycling them back out onto the streets where the circle will continue. They are also well aware that millions of people will suffer because of the illusion and believe me, they don’t care. Building another prison to them is like losing a nickel to the average joe. This is a business. It’s the most profitable business they got on the planet. Id love to tell you all where I get my sources but I would be shot along with my family. It doesn’t stop at drugs either. Gambling, pornography, prostitution, human trafficking,… It’s hard to believe but all of earths vices are under the US government’s control. They get away with it by bribing politicians to convince the mass public that all of these vices are public safety issues. The FED is like the mafia but with more soldiers, most of them ignorant to the main agenda which is global domination. Don’t believe me? That’s fine. Wait and see.
    2) The positive benefits of marijuana use have the potential to cure allot humanities faults and the FED knows this. They’ve known this since the days of ancient Egypt. Marijuana was put on this planet for a specific reason- To give people the wisdom to overcome their human faults. In a nutshell, the marijuana plant is of extra terrestrial origin. It is the ONLY plant in the world capable of relieving multiple human issues. It was put here so that people would not need to go to a pharmacy. Actually truth be told, there is a natural cure for everything on this Earth, and the FED knows that too. Now the illumanati see the global population as cattle, non deserving of divine knowledge. This is a war dating back thousands of years. Ever notice how people who smoke marijuana have a tendency to be less trusting of their government? Marijuana speaks directly to the human subconscious. You know, the part of your brain that you can’t use or control. More importantly it speaks to the human spirit. You know, the part of you that gives you the suspicion that all is not holy on capital hill. The thousands of other benefits are pretty well known thanks to organizations like NORML. Let me sum it all up before this rant gets any longer. THERE IS NO GREATER THREAT ON THE PLANET TO THE FED THEN MARIJUANA. I would expect them to fight brutally to see that it never gets legalized. Do not be fooled by the states as they seem to be doing their own thing with this magical herb. The FEDS have a master plan that will put an end to the legalization movement. There is no stopping it. Im sorry. I don’t expect any of you to take me seriously and once again that doesn’t bother me. In time, the FED will crown the anti-christ and when that happens, the global penalty for smoking a joint will be death. We need to look to more spiritual solutions if we hope to prevail. This is all about good and evil, politics has nothing to do with it. I don’t care if you believe in god or not, you have little control over the powers that be. However, with faith anything is possible. We are not fighting prohibition here, we are fighting Lucifer. The sooner we realize it the better our chances of survival as a human race.

  12. What else should one expect in a police state? It’s all a power play to control other people’s lives and wealth. If I could control what people did and did not put into their bodies, I would effectively own them. Prohibitionists’ goal is precisely that, making others wards of the government, slaves. Why is it we do not drug test the U.S. Congress? Masters live quite different lives than their slaves.

  13. It sounds to me that we have turned into,”what we have spent billons of dollars trying to prevent and discourage in the world”, a communist government. I hate to think it but thats what you have when the govt. stops concidering what the people want. Marijuana legalization was the biggest topic on the presidents own web site and he laughed at it. Everyone knows we are all just a number now, SS#. We will all see it in the near future.The United States of America has become the opposite of what it was intended to be by the founding fathers. The US constitution and Bill of rights is, and has been for some time, NULL AND VOID! Big brother Govt. is in charge now, not the people.

  14. It is unlikely for any presidents in the future to support the legalization of cannabis since corporations now have the right to fund their commercials, and these corporations are the reason that it was made illegal in the first place. They will basically bribe presidential candidates into supporting the drug war and supporting anti-marijuana causes. This is just another jab at a helpful plant that’s good for many things, but bad for the profits of the corporations. That’s politics for you. :/

  15. OK, this is really low, and why the government goes along with such duplicity is “old school” corruption- via-looking-the-other-way. I still say the only reason pot is illegal is that almost everyone who uses it is afraid to admit it, under their real name, to their friends, family and local media. And then I see an article like this, and further realize that decency itself is on the side of the pro-pot people and indecency, as usual, is on the side of the fearmongers.

  16. Did ya hear the line in Obama’s State of the Union speech this evening about finding a cure for cancer and how a new miracle drug could focus on killing cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone? A sign of things to come, or just political rhetoric??
    The Republican response was also very interesting in that they quoted Thomas Jefferson about the limited role of government and not allowing government to curb the natural progress of entrepreneurial endeavors. This would seem to fall in line with allowing more research if taken at face value. If they cannot see the irony in their usual opposition to anything cannabis, then they too are just running their mouths.

  17. Leave it to Federal bureaucrats to continue their own self serving agenda by continuing to piss away billions of tax payer dollars each and every year with garbage like this. . .
    ONLY bureaucrats and politicians the world over could be so misinformed and frankly, so STUPID, to not realize that legalizing, regulating and taxing the sale of cannabis and other drugs would reduce crime, poverty and war all over the world AND boost the economies of ALL nations.
    I take that back. . .to call bureaucrats and politicians “stupid” is an insult to stupid people.

  18. I agree its revolution time. The government is a pawn of something even more poweful the banks that we threw our money at and continue to lick there nuts and ass’s. What we need to do is get involved in just legalizing weed totally fuck the government and all the controlling entitys. This is just such a waste of life.

  19. we r already slaves 2 the real people in power freedom does not exists anymore and they will kill anyone they want it’s a sad time we live in

  20. This is a much bigger conspiracy. I would bet that the government knows all about cannabis and the benefits. But then they have this cash cow drug war that the prison industrial complex started to stop the hippies. There is no research not because cannabis is potentially dangerous, but because they can’t really find any thing wrong with it. I would bet that cannabis prevents cancer, or something this significant. That is why there is this ridiculous cover up of one plant, against almost an entire plant kingdom!

  21. What a great article Paul. Did a great job on hitting the spot and you are so right #3, the pen is mightier than the sword. Thank you NORML for being there.

  22. This all makes me sick to my stomache.
    These ANIMALS wont allow us to research for our good! Screw them! If this was done 30 years ago we would know one way or the other if THC and Cannaboids could have effects on cancer and other deseases. Many may have still been alive today (my father icluded) If these ANIMALS were put down. SELF SERVING GOOD FOR NOTHING ANIMALS!
    Our government needs a good house cleaning…top down !!!
    This is a war on our people, citizens of of AMERICA!
    War doesnt decide whos right..just whos left…

  23. number 18 i just voted 52 times not stopping until i hit 420 and i hope every one else will join in lets face it we are the biggest minority in the America lets take 30 minutes out of are busy lifes and vote this issue to the top and not like last time we need to really screw this system up trow so many votes behind marijuana we cant be laughed off. Obama like him or not said he would rather be a good one term president then a mediocre two term i smell a ally with nothing to lose i always believed it would be a second term issue if it ever came up.

  24. Think positive, It seems we are all a little smarter than a lot of people, especially than some of the people running this country. Don’t hurt their feelings because they will retaliate in fear keeping prohibition in tact, we are a select breed of individuals that need to show them their error so they can correct it, even NIDA is just doing what they’re told, someone fucked the system up somewhere and now we’re going to fix it…

  25. These politicians are not really Stupid, They want to turn all Cannabis Consumers to be convicted felons, When they do that, We will no longer be able to Vote, Thus, NO “Pro” Cannabis laws will be passed, Slick plan Huh? Just turn your opposition into Criminals that can no longer Vote.

  26. From the article linked: “The marijuana coming across the southwest border, traditionally a source of low-potency drugs, has increased in strength from a median potency of 4.8 percent in 2003 to 7.3 percent in 2007.
    As a consequence, inexperienced or young marijuana users may be more prone to overdose, federal officials say. And users hoping to achieve a state of euphoria may experience dysphoria, a state of anxiety and irritability, and perhaps other ill effects.”
    These guys are clueless.

  27. Are the pro mmj people fed up enough already? Sounds like it. Isn’t it time to re-schedule this medicine? Isn’t that the real problem here? I can’t believe this discussion even exists. Its 2010 and we still put people in cages for smoking the plant of life.

  28. hey look i got this isnt the place to ask questions but i have a few and the other sites ive tried to try to get the answers i seek are blocked by the schools server whats the difference between indica and sativa i hard sativa was a head high while indica was a head high but that the thing i wanted to ask whats the difference in a body and head high i havent been able to tell even through trial and error you know for uhh science. sorry for the question once again i know this isnt the correct place if this is taken down ill understand sorry norml =P

  29. On January 26, 2010 President Barack Obama selected Leonhart to be the DEA’s full time Director. This appointment by the President was Obama’s very first personal declaration of war on our marijuana legalization efforts. This was a statement of implied future physical and psychological aggression to those of us Americans who have chosen to use marijuana for whatever our personal reasons are! This was Obama’s message to those who elected him to change the statuesque relevant to marijuana legalization. On January 26, 2010 President Obama officially became another failure for the majority of average American citizens who desire real change.

  30. “NIDA is encouraging research [NEGATIVE RESULTS ONLY PLEASE] in this area because there is a high prevalence of marijuana use in the general population accompanied with an increasing misperception that its use poses low health risk, there is limited research in this area, and there are no effective pharmacological treatments available for these disorders. ”
    The research has been done, they couldn’t find anything. Still plenty of mony available to someone who can find the negative results they’re hoping for.

  31. Holy Smokes! Sounds to me like a tyrannical government conspiracy. Time to change the status quo.
    Yes, less is more. Less government of the people, more liberty for the people.
    The Universal Life Church of the Holy Smokes
    Potland, OR

  32. Everyone be sure to visit change.org in the MEDICAL change Ideas, there is a vote going to remove marijuana from the schedule 1 clasification, we need to make sure it is number one on his poll/ballot again. Then we will see if he has the back bone we hope he has. Or maybe he will show his cowardness again and laugh at the subject. Lets be heard

  33. When I see stuff like this article going on, I am left to wonder to what end are we pursuing this policy? As of right now, marijuana prohibition has lasted for over 70 YEARS and has cost us several HUNDRED BILLION in tax-payer’s money!!! The question to be asked here is, ” What have we got to show for it all?” More prisons? More prisoners? More criminal activity on our streets? More corruption in our government? More drugs seeping through both our northern and southern borders? More excuses to erode our civil liberties? In production terminology, these can all be characterized as “inefficiencies” inherent to the production line of society. Every once in a while, you have to review your production process to streamline it and make it more efficient (produce better results with the same or less effort and/or materials). As NIDA currently represents a major bottle-neck, and the DEA represents a line of crashed machines, I’d say it is time to liquidate both entities, and start a more efficient process more in-line with the intentions of our founding fathers (ie probably avoid replcing NIDA or the DEA with anything, and giving their remaining mandate over to the FDA).

  34. The bigger question remains unanswered:
    What can we do about it? Writing our politicians doesn’t help if there there isn’t pending legislation or a re-election right around the corner.
    What can we do about the NIDA stone-walling good science?

  35. It is all about who’s got the power. Politicians in this country have always gotten the power to make and change laws as they please….they cannot afford to allow any Medical Marijuana research because they are scared the US pharmaceutical industry will collapse under the heavy weight of so many health benefits medical marijuana provides to the human being…the medical marijuana movement is a run away train that nobody can stop…anybody standing in its way will be crashed under the pile of benefits and wellness it offers…it is just a matter of time

  36. screw the FED. we dont have to listen to them. the states should get more attention and we need to stop funding our stupid masters by stoping paying the income tax. unless you own a business it is not valid. give them the finger and hurt them where it counts. THEIR WALLET.

  37. To Paul Armentano:
    Thank you for once more bringing to light this subject as well as the numerous others through this great site. You may not be able to write new laws, but knowledge you share will. Through this site you have taught myself, and thousands of others invaluable lessons on weed and our government. Its for this reason that we consider you a mentor and respect you as our teacher.

  38. #22 i did hear that,an i thought the same maybe there is hope still Legalize 2010.
    PS Its funny whenever u r caught with some green they dont explain they jus say its illegal

  39. Why oppress medical research? Why keep cannabis illegal as a recreational intoxicant?

  40. Cannabis, Its,only the most useful natural resource known to man.It can be used for food,shelter,medicine,clothing,recreation and energy. But thats only the positive results.

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