Editorial: Medical marijuana should be researched

Photo+credit%3A+Anna+Dobrowolski
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Editorial: Medical marijuana should be researched

Photo credit: Anna Dobrowolski

Photo credit: Anna Dobrowolski

Photo credit: Anna Dobrowolski

Photo credit: Anna Dobrowolski

Jamal Melancon

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Popular support for marijuana legislation appears to be on a steady path to creating full legalization, especially for medical measures, but there lies a huge problem in how legalization is happening: we’re getting ahead of ourselves in what we know.

Marijuana may serve to act as a great alternative or even innovative medicine, but how can we be so sure? The federal government is correct: we need more research.

Supporting medical marijuana may seem like a no-brainer, but because different state medical marijuana laws and the federal law of marijuana as a schedule I drug are in conflict, research through larger scale clinical trials has been mostly non-existent. Doctors do not wish to readily prescribe to their patients a drug that could potentially cost them their practicing license, especially now that the country is awaiting a new federal administration.

Back in August, the Drug Enforcement Administration published their responses for rejecting two petitions for rescheduling marijuana, which remains a schedule I controlled substance. The DEA cited 11 clinical studies as recent as 2013 that met their criteria, but that overall failed to provide sufficient evidence for marijuana being used as an acceptable medical treatment in the United States.

The DEA did, however, change their policy to allow more than just the University of Mississippi to be authorized to grow marijuana to supply research purposes. New entities may now apply to become registered with the DEA, so they can distribute the drug for research purposes authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Although still federally illegal, marijuana legislation showed its progress in this year’s election results, which legalized recreational use for California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, while medical marijuana passed in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota. The country’s priorities in observing use and distribution of this drug is becoming increasingly important now that medical marijuana is legal in 28 states, and the most populous state in the country, California, has now legalized recreational use.

Now that the DEA’s policy is open to more than one entity researching medical marijuana, many more people are in a position to take action in their advocacy. Research should be, and is, the leading component that can lead to federal legalization. The more common large clinical trials are, the quicker we can ensure people are helped as much as possible in safe ways with medical marijuana.

The days of medical experts “recommending” medical marijuana for patients to go to dispensaries to obtain will seem primitive when there’s conclusive, scientific evidence of the many specifics of marijuana components, such as what specific marijuana strains contain components to aid specific medical issues.

As those committed to pursuing just approaches and ideals in the world of academia, it is up to us to support institutions and entities willing to supply the leaf product necessary to conduct research and help experts produce telling, detailed results, and achieve legal policies that benefit people and prevent harm.

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