Why Aren't We Prioritizing Marijuana Research?
Marijuana use has been legalized in 26 states as well as Washington, D.C. In seven of those States, along with D.C., marijuana is completely legal and allowed for recreational use. Stores selling marijuana are licensed and overseen by the government. In the rest of the legalized states, marijuana remains legal only for medical use.
Many states are pursuing legislative measures to regulate the use and sale of marijuana. Even in states which have not legalized marijuana, decriminalization is taking place in the form of non-prosecution, or deeming a certain amount of marijuana OK. Other states are strict about marijuana only being used for medicinal purpose, requiring users to register and carry a card which identifies them as a licensed user.
Despite changes in state laws, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In fact, marijuana, according to the federal government, is classified as a schedule one narcotic, the same as LSD or heroin. While states pursue marijuana for medical purposes, the federal government causes a roadblock by keeping marijuana classified as a controlled narcotic.
Because of this, researchers encounter obstacles when trying to study and test medical uses for marijuana. It’s causing the research to find friendlier places of study in other countries whose attitudes toward marijuana aren’t so unyielding and closed minded.
The U.S should prioritize marijuana research. Marijuana has been proven to at least help with many ailments and diseases. The government should take off its restraints against marijuana research and see what science can achieve.
When Marijuana Became “Bad”
Marijuana had been used in many cultures throughout history. It became taboo in the United States in the 1930’s when elite businessmen from the timber industry conspired with the media and government officials to demonize and criminalize its use.
They feared the hemp industry — which could produce paper, clothing and thousands of other items — would threaten their timber industry. Newspapers and even movies were made to frighten the public about the (inaccurate) dangers of marijuana use. Marijuana was essentially outlawed by 1937 and remains so at the federal level.
Barriers to Drug Research
In order for a drug to be approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), it must go through a series of tests to make sure it is safe and effective for its intended use. This can take a long time — usually months, if not years. The government wants to be completely sure before it puts its stamp of approval on a new drug.
Once a drug is found to be effective, it is then used in clinical trials before becoming publicly available. Lab results can be incomplete, and you never really know how effective a drug is until it is tested on people. The end results will show how effective the drug was and what side effects people had as well.
Since marijuana is classified as a schedule one narcotic and is a controlled substance, researchers have a hard time getting what they need to conduct their research or even being legally allowed to do so. The United States government has only focused on the negative effects of marijuana use in order to maintain its prohibition of it. Over a quarter of the studies done are focused on negative side effects. Some researchers have even been forced to go overseas to get away from the stigma of marijuana research.
Finding Help Overseas
The United Kingdom has the same restriction on marijuana as the U.S. In the Netherlands, marijuana isn’t necessarily legal, but its use is overlooked. Acceptance of marijuana use across the world is wide-ranging.
Israel offers a great opportunity for medical marijuana research. Marijuana is legal there only for medical use, but the government is one of only three countries in the world with a government-backed marijuana program. Medical marijuana research has been going on there for over 50 years. The U.S. businesses have invested over $100 million in Israeli companies conducting medical marijuana research.
Marijuana has been used medicinally to treat many different ailments and conditions in conjunction with, or instead of, traditional drugs. Here are just a few.
- Cancer Treatment
Cancer patients use marijuana to the side effect of chemotherapy. Marijuana can nausea and prevent vomiting. Cancer patients who use marijuana have an increased appetite. Marijuana’s effect on cancer cells is being researched.
- Glaucoma Relief
Glaucoma causes an increase in eye pressure. Marijuana use that pressure and can prevent or delay blindness.
- Addiction Treatment
Marijuana is not addictive and has been used to treat withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction.
- Blocking Alzheimer's
Marijuana use can slow down the formation of plaques in the brain. It won’t cure Alzheimer’s, but it can slow it down.
Wouldn’t it be great if our doctors and scientists could research marijuana without government intervention and interference? In most cases where marijuana has helped, the patients are in dire situations with nothing to lose. Even if its use simply provides comfort, it is a worthy pursuit.
It’s sad that our misguided and closed-minded government is keeping us from finding marijuana’s true potential. Let science and the medical community decide what positive uses marijuana can provide. Let science and medicine decide what negative side effects are caused by marijuana. Hopefully, the United States has advanced enough not to have its best wishes thwarted by propaganda and puritanical attitudes.