Some of the latest national polls show that 91 percent of the American population supports the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Yet, the Justice Department, which is headed up by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continues to do everything in its power to prevent the scientific community from exploring the therapeutic potential of the herb. Essentially, Sessions has allowed his personal opinions get in the way of progress on something that even medical professionals admit is very real.
It was earlier this year that Sessions told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that the studies suggesting that medical marijuana could reduce overdose deaths related to opioids were questionable, at best. He said there still was not enough research to substantiate this phenomenon, which may be true. But there have been several studies emerge over the past few years showing some decline in prescription opioids in states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use. Yet, instead of allowing a platform for research to expand, perhaps a move that would help get to the bottom of this debate once and for all, the Justice Department has done nothing but sandbag the issue.
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Prior to President Trump taking over the White House, the DEA said it was expanding its application process for marijuana growers. For the past several decades, the federal government has only allowed the University of Mississippi to grow all of the cannabis used for research. This has been one of the biggest complaints from those hoping to explore this plant. Not only are there often product shortages, but researchers say the quality of Uncle Sam’s weed is subpar in comparison to the stuff being grown in legal states. This problem stood to be remedied under the new application process. But as soon as Sessions took over, he put a stop to all of that. There are somewhere around 25 application just hanging out in a sea of inaction.
Nothing is expected to change anytime soon, as Sessions says the expansion would be a violation of international drug law. But this is not true. The language of the U.N. drug treaties only restricts recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana research has never been considered a violation.
But parts of the federal government have started to admit that marijuana has some medical function. The FDA recently approved the first ever cannabis-based medicine for distribution in the United States. The drug (Epidiolex) is comprised of the CBD compounds and has been shown “safe and effective” in the treatment of certain kinds of epilepsy. A recent article from Forbes shows the DEA must now rescheduled CBD under the Controlled Substance Act, opening it up to additional research possibilities.
Still, Sessions doesn’t appear anywhere close to changing his tune.
“Restricting scientific research and development within the United States will only hurt American scientists, companies, and patients,” reads a piece from the CATO Institute. “While Jeff Sessions may continue to argue fiercely against medical marijuana, the tide is turning.”