Today’s headlines are a mix of information. Some say thousands of studies on cannabis show it is safe. Others say that more research needs to be done. So which is it? The truth is that the whole system may have been a farce, right from the start.
Why so many studies don’t seem to count
During the Nixon administration, cannabis was placed in Schedule I. This was supposed to be a temporary situation until a commission could review evidence and make a recommendation.
That answer was supplied back in 1972. The Shafer Commission, appointed by Nixon himself, unanimously recommended decriminalizing cannabis. Nixon, for his own reasons, chose to vilify cannabis anyway. Since then, the DEA was created, and the guys who get paid to bust weed have run control of studies ever since.
Modern research designed to fail
With the restrictions of Schedule I, research must be approved by NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The organization’s name spells out the mistake. They aren’t looking for positive results.
Furthermore, only cannabis has a restriction in this category of a single source of government-approved testing material. The University of Mississippi has held that contract for decades. However, the weed they grow is crap, by anyone’s standard except the government.
Take the latest study to be derailed by poor government supply, one conducted by Johns Hopkins. Dr. Sue Sisley shared pictures of the paltry pot with PBS.
It didn’t resemble cannabis. It didn’t smell like cannabis. -Dr. Sue Sisley
After receiving cannabis that tested positive for mold, lead, and a completely wrong cannabinoid profile, MAPS director Doblin stated,
NIDA is completely inadequate as a source of marijuana for drug development research.
Johns Hopkins pulled out of the study shortly after.
Can’t win for losing
Even if the study continues, it will never vindicate medical use. Since the cannabis isn’t the same as that on the market, the FDA can’t approve U of Miss herb for Stage 3 trials.
Until the Catch 22 of cannabis research is fixed by moving it to a lesser rung, the hands of researchers, and everyone else remain tied. But it appears the DEA may allow other facilities to grow cannabis for research in the near future.
Congress has finally felt the winds of change, and even now sifts through cannabis reform measures coming out of the woodwork. The process takes time, the one resource that medical patients don’t have.
But as legal positions shift, and research is conducted, as half the nation celebrates broader access, thousands of people sit behind bars for a plant and wait for the changes to mean something to them. For them, time is all they have left.