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’m sick and tired of this Bullshit, it’s like all these government agencies are all running around like a bunch of cockroaches ,scurrying from the light of TRUTH, hiding behind some “other” alphabet soup agency( here to serve us) , saying” we can’t do anything , because of XYZ at that other agency”, and NOTHING EVER GET”S DONE…..
    Anyone know where I can get some “fuel” for my MAK-90?

  2. Cannabis IS SOMA, (see Aldous Huxley) And it is up to our Country to figure out if we want it or not.

  3. When our corporate government makes more from marijuana being legal
    and when all of the control is in the hands of our corporate government and our corporate government can replace all of the jobs that marijuana
    illegality has created and sustained over the past seven decades, marijuana will be available and most likely toxic to insure that if you do use marijuana you will contract some form of treatable but un-curable
    disease so that one of the corporate hospitals can drain your account dry.
    If you think that this kind of thing doesn’t and isn’t going on, I strongly urge you to watch a documentary by “PBS” called “Trade Secrets” and see for yourself.

  4. You guys are going about marijuana reform in all the wrong ways. How many other medications do you know of do you have to register for and carry around a card? Do oxycontin perscribees have that?
    The only way for true marijuana reform, is through the liberty movement. If you fail to reform with liberty, the marijuana business will morph into what the tobacco business has: the poison business. Expect additives and GMOs. Going about this all the wrong way.
    [Editor’s note: Liberty movement? While it is true that one does not need a card to purchase oxycontin, however one can’t purchase oxycontin without a prescription, which totally track the purchase as the prescription is broadcast to the DEA, the state board of medical examiners and pharmacies and the pharmacy itself maintains a record.]

  5. LLLou ya dude had a great time i got the difference between the two im looking for a deeper insight on what the differance between a head and body high are

  6. In history men have justified their professions on the foundation of lies and the basis and tenents of money. History has not changed
    Raymond DiPasquale

  7. Anyone seen ‘Thank you for smoking’?
    Same conecpt these people dont want to prove anything because they will prove themselves out of existence. Theres no need to find any benifets during a time when there jobs are lined up.
    These people know it but there not willing to say the truth because of the money behind the whole scam. This gets legalized there goes private jails. No private jails there goes 1000’s of jobs that the DEA wont have anymore.
    We need to make a mainstream movie just like they did for ‘Thank you for smoking’ although it wasnt the main point, its a definite example.

  8. obama will not stand up to these criminals at the dea or they would shoot him like they did Kennedy

  9. There has been 998 U.S. patents issued for THC and related cannabinoids, how is the DEA going to bust all of these patent holders and the patent office? Being a Schedule 1 rating it cannot be researched or used for medecine!

  10. Sounds like speci-izum ! I’m tired of be discriminated against ! I have a service connected disability ! The only ill effect of cannabis is prohibition ! So FUCK the Gov. ! We the PPL ! Give me liberty or give them death !

  11. 54 matt,
    i see it too because, i dont trust our government either. if they relize that the people want cannabis voted in, i feel like our government will throw something in with concerns to regulation or worse yet, peoples health and, then say….see cannabis is unhealthy for america. when all this started for corporate personal gain and government greed, if they regulate it (which, they will demand) you can damn sure bet they will do something like that which you say….

  12. Editor’s note: Liberty movement?
    LoL, that’s what we say about NORML.
    The fact of the matter is that no other medication requires you to carry around special cards and physically register with X federal/state agency.
    The reason why Marijuana laws need to be reformed in the United States IS NOT because our legislatures have something specifically personal against marijuana. It is because of systemic failures and corruption within our system. We need to fix the system before we can expect legitimate marijuana reform. Otherwise, we can make changes but there is no guarantee that marijuana users will be free or tyranny will once again control marijuana laws in the future. Fix the system, don’t just put a band-aid over it. NORML = bandaid. Liberty movement = the fix.
    [Editor’s note: The is no ‘Liberty movement’ in the United States. If you’re insinuating that tea baggers, militia-types, libertarians, Fox News and Ron Paul sycophants equate to a viable liberty movement, liberty is in trouble.
    Thankfully, absent alliances with fringe political movements, cannabis law reform continues to move forward at a strong pace.]

  13. i think it’s time to sell everything but what i need and move to canidia. the u.s. the people in the goverment don’t know what the heck there doing.

  14. Holy Smokes!
    Everyone should join the new CAMP. Citizens Against Marijuana Prohibition. CAMPer’s believe that the prohibition of cannabis is a failed policy. Join CAMP today. Sign up for the new CAMP.

  15. If research was done on medical cannabis, this goverment would blow a gasket!There is no excuse for not having research done ,other that this so called goverment is afraid they are wrong big time.They want to keep cannabis illegal so they can make money on it. Being illegal they can do what ever they feel like doing and screw all of you. They don’t care how many citizens they put in prison, just so they get there cut of illegal money!
    Do the research and show this goverment, they have been wrong all this time!!!

  16. “[Editor’s note: The (SIC) is no ‘Liberty movement’ in the United States. If you’re insinuating that tea baggers, militia-types, libertarians, Fox News and Ron Paul sycophants equate to a viable liberty movement, liberty is in trouble.”
    Huh? UNH Young Adults for Liberty was not only recognized before the UNH NORML chapter but it also has a large membership, many of them also NORML members. Hmmm? Also, just off the top of my head I can name a bunch of congressional candidates who claim to be from the Liberty movement on their campaign websites: Rand Paul, Peter Schiff, RJ Harris. They are all winning in the polls right now.
    How many candidates claim to be NORML supporters for 2010?
    [Editor’s note: Cannabis reformers may well be part of a so-called ‘liberty’ movement in NH or at UNH….but this is a far cry from having a viable, sustainable ‘liberty’ movement in American electorate politics.
    Unfortunately, Libertarians rarely garner more than 5% support in elections. It is hard to say there is a plausible ‘liberty movement’ when 95% of the public does not support such….
    As NORML is not a political party, it does not court politicians to be beholden to one form of political thinking or another.]

  17. i love weed and weed loves me so i think it should be legal so we could all jus sit back and smoke up and be friends….

  18. This is truly bullshit. It’s amazing how much influence big pharma has on the government. They say that smoking weed is bad, but they market a sleeping pill that can cause you to drive sleepwalk eat and fuck all while completely unaware of it. Marijuana is by far less harmful than half of the pills big pharma tries to push down the throats of Americans.

  19. LoL NORML editors… well:
    The budget places America’s drug war spending at $15.5 billion for fiscal year 2011; an increase of 3.5 percent over FY 2010. That figure reflects a 5.2 percent increase in overall enforcement funding, growing from $9.7 billion in FY 2010 to $9.9 billion in FY 2011. Addiction treatment and preventative measures, however, are budgeted at $5.6 billion for FY 2011, an increase from $5.2 billion in FY 2010.
    Good luck with the Obama admin. “Unfortunately, Libertarians rarely garner more than 5% support in elections. It is hard to say there is a plausible ‘liberty movement’ when 95% of the public does not support such….” Really? Well Rand Paul is polling for the win for Kentucky Senator, so I guess he is still not viable right?
    [Editor’s note: NORML is non-partisan and a single candidate in a state like KY with Rand Paul does not at all demonstrate a national political movement. If Rand is elected from KY, he’ll be one Libertarian-leaning senator among 99 non-Libertarian senators. Hopefully, if he is elected, he will not be as weird, ineffective and a prohibitionist as the retiring senator, Jim Bunning.]

  20. why dont scientist do this secretly in private than publish results. thats how cannabis seed compaines and every illegal grower does it. our forfathers all grew cannabis for medicine or fiber and were all smugglers wtf is the deal it’ll have to be another underground experiment of the revelation of truth. remember eventually good will always prevail over evil it just takes time, education, and a need one of these days boys one of these days

  21. Ijust got picked up for a license plate light. The cops piss tested me. The ng/ml was 58. The cutoff #for Iowa is 45.For this I lose my license for 1 yr.pay 2500 dollar fine and screw my life up! Why should the government do any research on pot when they can make money on poor people like myself. How handy is calling metabilites in my system impairment! Oh ya I also was busted for 1 gram of pot. I`ve been charged with poss. several times so this time they call it an aggrivated misdemeaner which is punishable for up to 2yrs. in prison and up to a 7500 dollar fine all I have to say is I`ve never been aggrivated when i smoke the stuff!!

  22. i dont know why people think obama is all that. so far i think hes been a joke all the way around. all it takes is an executive order to fix all of this. the man is useless…

  23. in 1974 our gov. did a test on cannabis but the results were not allowed.instead incinerated. this is not our way. a clear indication that times change people do not. the face of tirrany will always be with us. the destruction of results of the test tells me of what i needed to know or suspected.

  24. Yeah the government controls the laws that are made
    But we as american have the right to change anything lets start putting people in high position that listen to the people they’re representing.
    They forget they work for us.

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