President Obama Has Given More Medical Marijuana Research the Green Light
The powerful effectiveness of cannabis in treating ailments as far-ranging as anorexia and cancer has very often been the subject of scientific studies, but Americans cannot walk into a drug store and procure the plant, thanks in part to its being considered an illicit substance. And,while great strides have been made nationwide in decriminalizing and in some instances legalizing marijuana, there is still far to go until pot can be prescribed by doctors nationwide. Part of the problem is that marijuana research is severely limited, and access to the plant for purposes of medical studies is nearly nonexistent. However, the tides may soon turn in favor of progressive medical marijuana research, and the potential for finding safer and nonaddictive treatments for countless illnesses is potentially limitless.
Earlier this week, President Obama took a big step towards adopting medical marijuana in the world of healthcare by making way for more extensive research into the medicinal properties of the substance. According to the New York Times, the administration’s decision to “remove a major roadblock to marijuana research” will “sharply increase the supply of marijuana available to researchers.” Obama himself has made it public that he finds marijuana no more harmful than alcohol, and the United States Department of Justice has not obstructed sates where marijuana has become legalized. All of this points to a general relaxation of the country’s stance on marijuana use, both recreational and medicinal. But it’s the latter that is the kind which could very well lead to revolutionary changes in how we address sickness.
Catherine Saint Louis and Matt Apuzzo explain that for many years, research into the effectiveness of marijuana in treating disease, pain, and other disorders has been highly constrained because “the University of Mississippi has been the only institution authorized to grow the drug for use in medical studies.” As such, quantities of marijuana available to research was so limited, “it could often take years to obtain it and in some cases it was impossible to get.” But now, the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) “will allow other universities to apply to grow marijuana.” Details of the policy are still emerging and although it is unclear exactly how many research facilities will gain access to marijuana for study, it is clear this is a major step towards a cultural shift.
However – and this is an important point to acknowledge – “[t]he federal government still classifies marijuana as a highly addictive drug without medical value.” That fact could be disheartening to those advocating for all-around legalization on a nationwide basis, but the fight for legalizing recreational pot use is far from over. As the Times reports, “Earlier this year, the D.E.A. had suggested that it would possibly remove marijuana from the list of the most restricted and dangerous drugs by end of June” and although that decision has not yet been made, its mere suggestion is a promising sign.