Feds Move to Open Up Marijuana Research

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Drug policy expert Mark Kleiman has been telling me for years that the biggest obstacle to high-quality research on marijuana is the fact that there’s only one authorized supply source for legitimate medical studies. So I’m totally prepped to see this as good news:

For years, the University of Mississippi has been the only institution authorized to grow the drug for use in medical studies. This restriction has so limited the supply of marijuana federally approved for research purposes that scientists said it could often take years to obtain it and in some cases it was impossible to get. But soon the Drug Enforcement Administration will allow other universities to apply to grow marijuana, three government officials said.

….“It will create a supply of research-grade marijuana that is diverse, but more importantly, it will be competitive and you will have growers motivated to meet the demand of researchers,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

….The new policy does not set a cap on the number who could qualify. Any institution that has an approved research protocol and the security measures needed to store dangerous drugs can apply. Researchers will still have to receive approval from federal agencies to conduct medical studies of marijuana, including from the D.E.A. and the Food and Drug Administration.

It’s about time. It’s more or less insane that we have tons of research on opioids, which are far more dangerous and addictive than marijuana, but hardly any on cannabis. Is that because drug warriors have been afraid of what the research might show? Maybe—but it’s a ridiculous concern. If cannabis turns out to be pretty useless, that’s good to know. If it turns out to be helpful, that’s even better to know. Either way, the more research the better.

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