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New DEA Policy Helps Marijuana Research, But Hurdles Remain

Cannabinoid Research Science

The recent debate surrounding the DEA rescheduling marijuana will at least lead to more research becoming possible. Research on specific cannabinoids, the naturally-occurring chemicals in cannabis, will be the primary focus for researchers. Since cannabinoids mirror natural chemicals already in the body, researchers are interested in the way that they are released in the body.

Additional changes will allow smaller, private companies to grow and test cannabis, according to The Denver Post. For profit companies may develop marijuana-based medicines that would undergo FDA approval for distribution. This is the first time that marijuana will be able to be grown by more than just accredited universities.

University of Colorado chemistry professor, Robert Sievers, said, “I regard this as a red-letter day. If things work as they should, this will be the first day of a cannabinoid pharmaceutical industry.”

The process of growing marijuana for research purposes is not as easy as having an application approved. The application process takes several years due to inspections and the significant amount of security equipment required.

CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, Dr. Jacci Bainbridge, said, “So, it seems like they’re giving us a little leeway, but there are still so many barriers you have to get over.”

Issues surrounding potency and precise chemical compositions make it difficult for scientists to do their job. Brookings Institution senior fellow John Hudak said, “They either scrap the study or they change the study to meet what the supply can offer. And that’s not good science.”

Following the DEA’s announcement, it was said that the DEA has a goal to diversify the marijuana that is available for research. If marijuana-derived experimental logs become important, reclassification may take place. It would occur due to additional research being conducted and proof of medical benefits from marijuana.

Some are hoping that increased research will start to breakdown all or some of the prohibition laws.

DEA spokesperson Russell Baer did say that, “Parts of it could definitely move. And I believe that’s kind of the direction this is moving toward.”

Sievers has been waiting for several years to research marijuana. He said, “There so many people who are interested in so many ways in what the promise could be. But, I think everybody is also looking over their shoulders.”