New law eases marijuana research

New U.S. Law Will Boost Marijuana Research

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act will make it easier for researchers to access marijuana and study its therapeutic uses

Margaret Osborne

Margaret Osborne

Smithsonian Magazine, December 6, 2022

President Biden signed a medical marijuana research bill into law last week, making it easier for scientists to access the drug to study its therapeutic uses. … Currently, scientists are required to obtain permits from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for their studies, a process that can take a year or more, writes Science’s Meredith Wadman. Under the new Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, the Attorney General has 60 days to approve applications, request more information or provide reasons for denying them.

Additionally, the law paves the way for universities and other entities to manufacture, distribute, dispense and possess marijuana for research, and it will allow researchers to amend their research protocols easier. It also requires the DEA to assess annually whether researchers have an “adequate and uninterrupted supply of marijuana,” per the law…[end quote]

The federal government considers marijuana an illegal Schedule I drug (on par with heroin and LSD), making it notoriously difficult to research. The new law won’t change the Schedule I status of cannabis. But it will make it easier to research.

Marijuana contains a highly complex mixture of chemicals.

The average potency of the cannabis flower is now around 20 percent THC, compared to 4 percent in the 1990s. Some highly concentrated products contain more than 90 percent THC. THC is the ingredient that induces the “high.” But marijuana also contains CBD and other related compounds that are reputed to have analgesic properties. Without further research it’s impossible to develop cannabis into standardized pharmaceutical products.

Proponents of legalized cannabis often gloss over the potential hazards. Health effects include breathing problems, increased nausea and vomiting (including nonstop vomiting called “hyperemesis”), anxiety and paranoia. The drug may also affect fetal development during pregnancy and brain development in young users. Heavy cannabis use has been associated with development of schizophrenia in teens.

In some people (not all) the cannabinoid receptor has “crosstalk” with the opioid receptors in the brain which can make cannabis as addictive as opioids. Anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s knows that some people become “potheads” while others use cannabis recreationally and don’t become addicted. This is similar to alcohol which can be addictive to some but not all. Many young people use cannabis. My mentee told me that about 1 in 5 of her high school classmates routinely came to school high – and some teachers smoked pot during the day.

Personally, I don’t use cannabis. But I’m glad that the new law will make it easier to research. This is a product with potential benefits and harms that need to be better defined.



I offer this up for consideration.

It’s a fast growing industry here. Competition will be fierce and it’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

I’m on the Board of the local Chamber of Commerce and we had a very well attended Holiday party this evening. One of my Board colleagues runs a large Budweiser distributor. He says they’re feeling the effects of the pot industry locally.

Interesting times as they say.

1 Like

Happy we are moving away from the wastage of incarceration.

Unfortunately the most telling studies decades ago showed pot to be a carcinogen. At least if it is smoked. With all those chemicals it might be if ingested.