The director of the National Institute of Health explained that federal laws make it very hard to study marijuana in the U.S.
One of the main reasons why cannabis has taken so long to be absorbed into the mainstream is ignorance. Not only from people who refuse to budge on their outdated opinions, but because that even after the drug became legal in several states, marijuana and its compounds remain a mystery.
Last week, Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, said that marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug prevents scientists from researching the plant thoroughly, learning about its side effects and medicinal benefits.
“Frankly, we know far too little about the benefits and risks of smoked marijuana,” he said in an interview with C-SPAN. “There have been very few studies that have actually rigorously tested that.”
Collins explained that marijuana research conducted in the U.S. is very limited because researchers have to go through a crazy amount of hurdles. For starters, all marijuana products submitted to studies must come from locations that have been licensed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Researchers must also obtain approval from the DEA and submit a form to the FDA if they want their study to get anywhere near humans.
The one place that has obtained NIDA approval is one farm in Mississippi.
“People don’t realize that I run a farm in Mississippi that grows marijuana because I’m required to do so,” said Collins. “But that’s the only source that investigators can use, and it may be rather different than what you could get in one of the states where marijuana is now approved in terms of its constituents.”
The University of Mississippi’s nationally licensed facility has been criticized for its limited output of products and for the fact that the cannabis they grow lacks components that can be found in crops of marijuana grown legally across the country.
While the government is trying to do their best to protect the public from the possible dangers of marijuana, by claiming the drug is Schedule 1, they’re doing the opposite.
Limiting research and knowledge of marijuana will only expose people to unknown compounds while also preventing researchers from learning about the plant’s promising medicinal benefits.