Another legal barrier to cannabis research just quietly came down.
Throughout the past decade, there have been many legal wins enjoyed by cannabis proponents. The reputation of cannabis has been revamped and its medical uses are now known to the mainstream public.
Despite Florida failing to become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana in last year’s election—by merely two percentage points—there has been a rapid rise in the number of states willing to give medical marijuana a try. Recently, five states have been experimenting with the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Numerous studies have suggested that marijuana could potentially possess a number of clinical benefits— including the ability to reduce tumor size, to remove or lower beta-amyloid plaque levels, and to potentially even fight type 2 diabetes—a disease affecting over 20 million citizens in the US.
However, researching the possible benefits of marijuana is very difficult due to regulations imposed by its illegality. Researchers and drug developers have struggled to utilize marijuana or cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant for studies due to the daunting and excessive restrictions put in place to better control the schedule 1 status.
Last week, the current administration eased up the restrictions to help the efforts to test cannabis’ medical benefits.
In 1999, it became a requirement for marijuana researchers to undergo a separate Public Health Service review prior to commencing research into the benefits of marijuana for any indication. The PHS would help determine research quality, the dosage amount that would be equivalent to the amount of marijuana that was smoked, and the guidelines to ensure all the tests would be done in a well-controlled environment.
That was a breakthrough in 1999— considering around only 25% of the public favored legalization, and there weren’t many studies to indicate its benefits. Now, almost two decades later, it is a hot topic and many researchers have found interest in the benefits of the plant and its properties.
In consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced the removal of the PHS review process noting that it, “closely overlapped with the investigational new drug application process that the FDA currently follows.”
Removing the separate PHS review procedure will significantly reduce the time it takes to get approval from the FDA to run clinical trials, which will save money for producers and give them the ability to get their products out on the shelf at a much faster pace.
Politically, removing the harsh legislation surrounding cannabinoid-based research should allow Congress and the president to reach a quicker conclusion to nationally legalize marijuana for medicinal use and maybe even decriminalization in states that have already allowed it medically. The future outlook for cannabis legalization looks bright, considering the laws attached to it are getting more lenient as the general public and politicians have woken up to the reality: marijuana is not dangerous and has many medical benefits that are desperately needed in this day and age.
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