medical benefits of cannabis
medical benefits of cannabis

After Blocking Medical Research on Marijuana for 80 Years, the US Government Asked States for Data on the Benefits of Cannabis

The US government blocked all research on medical cannabis, now wants that info from legal states!

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Thursday Dec 14, 2023

medical research on cannabis

The irony of irony, after blocking medical research on cannabis for over 80 years, the US Federal government asked legal states for data on the medical benefits of cannabis as the consider resheduling the plant from a schedule 1 drug to a schedule 3 drug.

Horse meet cart, cart meet horse.

As MJBIZ reported, newly released documents suggest that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took into consideration information on the medicinal value of marijuana submitted by U.S. states with legalized cannabis programs when determining the federal classification of the drug.


Previously, federal officials had provided limited information about the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) review process following a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation in August to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 under the Controlled Substances Act.


Even the specific recommendations from HHS to the DEA had not been disclosed.


The DEA is currently in the process of reviewing legal and policy aspects of the rescheduling, initiated by the Biden administration in October 2022. However, a rare glimpse into the process emerged when attorney Matt Zorn obtained and shared heavily redacted internal documents on Substack.


According to the documents, the U.S. government displayed "an interest in state data" submitted by state-level regulators to federal officials during the summer, as noted by attorney Shane Pennington, co-author of the "On Drugs" newsletter with Zorn.


Several states had provided information to the FDA and HHS regarding the cannabis products used by medical patients and how marijuana addressed their symptoms, as initially reported by MJBizDaily in July.  Since the Federal government has blocked most requests for studies on cannabis, the information is scarce.


At the time, these submissions were deemed potentially crucial, considering the limited number of peer-reviewed studies typically examined by federal health and science experts regarding state-legal marijuana products.


The "broader and more current data set" from the states appears to have played a role in informing HHS' analysis of whether marijuana currently has an accepted medical use in the treatment of ailments in the United States, according to Pennington.


He further suggested that the FDA's recent interest in state data, coupled with its significant focus on determining whether marijuana has a currently accepted medical use, leads to the conclusion that the agency likely believes the answer to that question is affirmative.


Unveiling the DEA's Review Process


The recent disclosure of internal records has shed light on the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) usually confidential review procedure, which is a complex area of drug categorization. These records, which were acquired and made public by lawyer Matt Zorn on Substack, provide a unique window into the process federal authorities went through while making decisions in reaction to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal that marijuana be reclassified. The public and interested parties were not informed about the factors influencing the substance's potential federal status before this disclosure, which followed a period of restricted transparency.


The disclosed documents highlight a pivotal moment in the DEA's review process, initiated in the wake of the HHS recommendation to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 under the Controlled Substances Act. Before this release, federal officials had maintained a tight-lipped approach, providing scant details on the factors and assessments guiding their decisions. With this newfound glimpse into the inner workings of the DEA's considerations, observers now have a better understanding of the complexities involved in reshaping the regulatory landscape for marijuana.


As attorney Matt Zorn shares these heavily redacted internal documents, questions arise about the criteria, evidence, and arguments weighed by the DEA in response to the HHS recommendation. The subheading sheds light on the intricacies of the review process, sparking discussions about the need for transparency in decisions that hold significant implications for the legal status and accessibility of marijuana in the United States. This revelation prompts a broader conversation about the balance between confidentiality in regulatory processes and the public's right to information on decisions that impact public health and policy.


The Significance of State-Level Data in the Rescheduling Debate


The released documents bring to the forefront the crucial role played by U.S. states with legalized cannabis programs in the ongoing debate over the rescheduling of marijuana. Within the disclosed information, it becomes evident that the federal government has shown a distinct interest in the data submitted by state-level regulators. This marks a notable shift in the regulatory landscape, acknowledging the importance of considering firsthand experiences and observations from jurisdictions where cannabis is already legal.


During the summer, several states actively contributed valuable information to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning the usage of cannabis products by medical patients and the efficacy of marijuana in addressing their symptoms. The significance of these submissions lies in their potential to shape the federal perspective on marijuana's medical utility, as federal health and science experts typically rely on a limited number of peer-reviewed studies.


The involvement of state-level data in the rescheduling debate amplifies the voices of those directly impacted by legalized cannabis, bringing forth real-world insights that go beyond theoretical considerations. This section explores the implications of states actively participating in the regulatory discourse and how their submissions may influence the federal decision-making process. The newfound acknowledgement of state-level data introduces a dynamic element into the dialogue surrounding marijuana rescheduling, emphasizing the need to incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences in shaping national drug policy.

How State Submissions Inform HHS' Analysis


The disclosed documents offer a fascinating glimpse into how state-level data is fundamentally shaping the analysis conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the medicinal value of marijuana. Attorney Shane Pennington's observation that the U.S. government expressed "an interest in state data" underscores a departure from the traditional reliance on limited, peer-reviewed studies in the federal decision-making process. The rich dataset submitted by at least five states to the FDA and HHS includes intricate details about the cannabis products employed by medical patients and the nuanced ways in which marijuana alleviates their symptoms. This marks a significant departure from the norm, introducing a more dynamic and real-world perspective into the ongoing evaluation of marijuana's accepted medical use.


As we peer into this data-driven paradigm, it becomes increasingly evident that the HHS' analysis is being profoundly influenced by the comprehensive insights provided by states with legalized cannabis programs. The emphasis on a "broader and more current data set" signifies a recognition of the need to incorporate diverse experiences and contemporary information in assessing marijuana's therapeutic potential. This shift in focus from theoretical studies to tangible, state-submitted data indicates a more holistic approach to understanding the medicinal applications of marijuana, potentially signalling a reevaluation of the substance's classification at the federal level.


Bottom Line


The recently unveiled documents shed light on the intricate decision-making processes of both the DEA and HHS concerning the potential rescheduling of marijuana. The rare glimpse into these usually confidential procedures underscores the evolving landscape of marijuana regulation, with a growing emphasis on transparency and a departure from traditional reliance on limited studies. The acknowledgement of state-level data and its influential role in shaping federal perspectives introduces a dynamic element to the discourse, recognizing the importance of real-world experiences in evaluating marijuana's medicinal value. As the FDA and DEA navigate the legal and policy complexities, these revelations prompt a broader conversation about the balance between confidentiality and the public's right to information in shaping national drug policies with far-reaching implications.





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