Obama Administration Lifts Major Barrier to Cannabis Research

By Victoria Kim 06/23/15

The administration has ditched a major bureaucratic hurdle that should streamline the research process.

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The White House is lifting a major barrier to non-federally funded marijuana research this week, a move that has garnered the support of both drug law reform advocates and opponents of legalization. Previously, marijuana research that was not funded by the federal government had to undergo a review by the U.S. Public Health Service.

“The Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine,” Mario Moreno Zepeda, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Huffington Post. “Eliminating the Public Health Service review should help facilitate additional research to advance our understanding of both the adverse effects and potential therapeutic uses for marijuana or its components.”

The PHS review process, which critics considered a bureaucratic obstacle that had long stifled research, was eliminated due to major similarities that it shared with the Food and Drug Administration’s Investigational New Drug (IND) process.

The administration deemed the PHS review “no longer necessary,” and determined that the application and approval for marijuana research can be streamlined by relying solely on the FDA’s IND process. The FDA process employs similar research standards with the PHS review that include research quality, good laboratory practices, and developing measured and consistent dosing for patients.

“Based on these considerations, and in order to streamline the application and approval processes for cannabis research, the committee that conducts the PHS review shall be eliminated,” reads a memo issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Although this research barrier is gone, others still remain, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) monopoly on marijuana grown for research. Reason’s Jacob Sullum notes that although the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected requests to allow private entities to grow marijuana for research, the NIDA itself has expanded its menu of offerings in response to previous criticisms of its poor quality.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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