Federal Drug Agency Head Calls For Expanded Medical Marijuana Research Supply

Thursday, 09 July 2015

Federal Drug Agency Head Calls For Expanded Medical Marijuana Research Supply

Washington, DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse Director (NIDA) Nora Volkow told a Congressional committee that the agency's monopoly on the federally licensed production of marijuana for clinical research is problematic and ought to be amended to include additional producers.

Speaking late last month at a hearing before the US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Dr. Volkow acknowledged, "It would be beneficial" for the federal government to allow private entities to produce cannabis for clinical research purposes.

Federal regulations currently demand that investigators seeking to conduct clinical trials with cannabis or organic cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol) are required to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Further, approved protocols may only utilize marijuana supplied by the University of Mississippi, the sole provider of cannabis for federally approved research.

An additional regulatory requirement mandating that the US Public Health Service review all clinical protocols was abolished last month.

In 2009, former DEA director Michele Leonhart set aside a 2007 administrative ruling demanding that the agency license non-government entities to produce cannabis for FDA-approved clinical research.

Last month, NIDA announced its intent to increase marijuana production. It is the second time this year the agency has sought permission to increase the amount of cannabis available for federally approved clinical research.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.