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Legal weed is everywhere – unless you are a scientist

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                  A research facility at the University of Mississippi is the only place in the country where marijuana can be grown and tested for medical research. | Brennan Linsley / AP Photo [19659003] Americans can buy legal high-quality marijuana legally in most states, but when scientists want to study pot in a lab, they basically stay at schwag. </p>
<p>  A little-known research facility at the University of Mississippi is the only place in the country that However, this effort is hampered by a slow process of certification of scientists, lack of funding and, according to pot experts, an inferior product in comparison to the booming cannabis sector hampered in recent years, authorized to grow and test marijuana for medical research purposes. </p>
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"It's brown, muddy garbage", say Peter Grinspoon, a doctor and board member of the Doctors for Cannabis Regulation describing the Mississippi Stoc k.

Meanwhile, 33 states are licensing medical marijuana, including 10 states and the District of Columbia, who have taken further steps to decriminalize or legalize the pot for leisure. This huge gap between federal government control of marijuana and the blossoming of a robust cannabis consumer market has global consequences: legitimate medical research on the effects of cannabis on everything from anxiety to Parkinson's disease is not only slowing down, there's even a product which is suitable for use in practice.

The DEA insists that it supports medical marijuana research, but defies the call to re-classify the plant so it does not coincide with addictive drugs such as heroin and ecstasy. When the DEA took steps in 2016 to expand the supply of scientists, the final approval of then Attorney General Jeff Sessions was rejected. In the outgoing Congress, several legislative proposals were introduced for both parties to extend the research, but none succeeded.

And now researchers and legislators say the lawyers' campaign to fully legalize marijuana surpasses the quest for better science.

"It's almost an absolute eye-catcher," said Harvard neurologist Staci Gruber studying cannabis-based drugs to treat anxiety. "These products are widely used in public. But as clinical researchers, we can not deliver a drop in a clinical trial. "

The Comprehensive Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, HR 2 (115), better known as Farm Bill and signed by President Donald Trump on Thursday – legalizes hemp production and thus the potential sale of cannabidiol or CBD, a component marijuana and hemp plants that have no psychoactive properties to drive people up. It is said to have anti-inflammatory and sedative effects, but there remain questions about medical effectiveness.

CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in marijuana plants that are still illegal under federal law, although many states have liberalized the rules. The other key with healing properties is THC, which raises people high. Some preliminary studies suggest that these two marijuana components – and possibly many others – can help with conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to Crohn's disease, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The first signs suggest that there is much more to come in. Laden: an alternative to painkillers, treatments for autistic children and even cancer therapy. However, the evidence is still thin – though more and more people are using marijuana as a cure for all sorts of ailments and illnesses.

Outside the government-approved pot farm, the DEA has approved an importer for shipping marijuana for a single trial. Mississippi's hideout seems to be increasingly limited.

And it's not easy for medical researchers to even access the malignant marijuana. You must obtain FDA approval for your proposed trial and undergo DEA checks for necessary protective measures, such as: For example, a room with limited access and first-class storage for the drug.

Only eight researchers released this barrier in 2010 The number has risen slightly since 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which administers the Mississippi Treaty, to 20 researchers in 2017.

Even then, Meeting the requirements of DEA laboratories is costly and will be approved for new studies – even for researchers who have previously been confirmed may take up to a year to complete, wrote psychiatrist Ryan Vandrey in a letter to the Johns Hopkins Senators in which he asked for change.

However, the focus of states is shifting towards full legalization in a way that makes it harder to join the research agenda. In fact, some legal advocates argue that research bills are a state policy of the federal government. Focusing on medical barriers – rather than rescheduling the drug or a more comprehensive reform of criminal justice than the recently adopted First Step Act (HR 5682 (115)) – could slow down the state-grown dynamics of marijuana.

Pot advocates want a congress flanked by the House's new Democrats to "reach the jugular on this issue," said Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

But some lawmakers want to keep science on the table – including Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who also supports broader legalization measures.

"The most important next step is to enable the FDA to properly measure and study the effectiveness of marijuana," Schatz told POLITICO. "There is a wealth of individual results and even some clinical evidence worth pursuing."

Schatz is the co-sponsor of the MEDS Act, p. 1803 (115), a bill introduced in 2017 to reduce research barriers such as cumbersome, sometimes redundant requirements between DEA and FDA. Retired Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was the lead co-sponsor of this law, but Schatz said other Republicans like Cory Gardner (R.-Colo.) And Thom Tillis (RN.C.) are also co-sponsors So has the support of both parties.

Farm Bill sanctioning of CBD products can increase the pressure on medical claims. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is concerned about the extensive health claims made on CBD and other cannabis products in a public assembly, he said in a statement when the bill was signed.

The FDA is ready to review the marketing rules and how the agency can make legal redress for CBD and cannabis products like GW Pharmas Epidiolex more efficient – the first FDA-approved cannabis-based drug to treat a specific form of epilepsy Market, said Gottlieb. [19659004] More cannabis-based drugs could enter the pipeline. While pharmaceutical companies have historically failed to see tons of incentives in marijuana research because they are already available to people, GW Pharma is followed by companies such as Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, which are developing a topical cannabis gel – and pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis, which recently received a drug have stained Worldwide partnership in the distribution of marijuana.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams on POLITICO's Pulse Check podcast recently also called for "as simple as possible" for qualified academics to explore the benefits and risks of marijuana. However, the nation's top physician has been far from supporting broader reforms.

"I am certainly not in favor of legalizing marijuana, relocating it, but I want to make sure that we research so that policy decisions are evidence-based." Adams said.

This attitude puts Adams and other regulators in a dead end with many researchers. The classification of marijuana into Schedule I – the category with the highest risk for drugs that have "no currently accepted medical use and high abuse potential" such as heroin and LSD makes buying, storing and studying the drug extremely difficult. This also means that even if the FDA has approved cannabis therapy – such as this epilepsy drug – DEA will decide whether it can be sold and shipped.

"We do not think everyone should have full access to everything the time," said Gruber, the Harvard neurologist who studied cannabis and anxiety. "But it seems quite incomprehensible that we are unable to access these things."

Anti-Legalization lawyers have come up with another idea: create a special section for the spin-off of Schedule I medicines, just for marijuana research.

That could be a bridge between conservative conservatives who participated in the hostility of the former Attorney General Session and those who favor milder restraints or full legalization, said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the White House's National Drugs Policy Bureau , whose group Smart Marijuana Approaches oppose a full legalization.

That's what the Pro-Pot Party lawyers are worried about.

"What they do is time-out," Collins said. "The impulse is behind our movement, and I think they're trying to stick to a life raft to keep them from sweeping."

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