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Federal Foot-Dragging On Cannabis Rescheduling Hampers Vital Research, Harms Veterans And Millions More

Public health officials agree that the federal government’s current grip on cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug precludes it from rigorous research, harming millions.

By David E. Carpenter

The federal government’s current position on cannabis and its stranglehold as a harmful Schedule 1 drug, which makes it ineligible for rigorous medical examination, is hampering vital research on the plant and harming millions of Americans, including veterans.

Federal research of cannabis through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has been woefully scant for decades, though respected sources show that cannabis is associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms. Scientists agree that further investigation is necessary with larger sample sizes to explore a broader range of patient-important outcomes.

New Study Reinforces Marijuana's Power To Treat PTSD
Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

But since 1968, U.S. researchers have only been allowed to use cannabis from one domestic source: a facility based at the University of Mississippi. That has meant that only a trickle of research is performed on a narrow range of cannabis products.

Add to that the fact that public health officials, such as the director of NIDA, Nora Volkow, agree that the federal government’s current grip on cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug precludes it from rigorous research.

RELATED: There’s No Proof Smoking Weed Occasionally Is Harmful, Says Top Federal Drug Official

“One of the barriers that has actually been noted is that cannabis, by being a Schedule I substance, requires certain procedures that actually can be very lengthy,” said Volkow. “In some instances, it detracts researchers who want to investigate it because it’s just much more cumbersome than doing studies with other substances.”

Crisis For Veterans Continues

The situation has now reached a boiling point as at least 20 military vets a day commit suicide due to PTSD and depression.

Recently, a few bipartisan voices who see cannabis as a crucial medical treatment are beginning to make some noise and implore access to cannabis for veterans.

RELATED: House Green Lights Researchers Accessing Marijuana From Dispensaries

In a recent letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), David Joyce (R-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), conveyed the following: “Research has shown that cannabis can be safe and effective in targeted pain-management. Additionally, cannabis has proven benefits in managing PTSD and other health issues, including multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders. Despite its efficacy, antiquated bureaucratic red-tape continues to deny veterans these life-altering treatments.”

veterans PTSD
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

The feds are not only facing mounting pressure from lawmakers and public health administrators, but also from powerful union and financial groups, including the likes of American Bankers Association, United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Credit Union National Association, the latter of which alone has over 120 million members. Leaders from those groups came together and penned a letter that pushes for marijuana banking reform to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), expected to pass this month or next.

RELATED: Marijuana Banking Reform: Millions Seek Banking Services Via Defense Act

The letter reads: “Banking is germane to NDAA because it bolsters national security by keeping bad actors out of the cannabis industry and the financial system, while also supporting the thousands of veterans who rely on the cannabis industry for medical treatment, employment, or entrepreneurial opportunities.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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