Despite the proclamations of Reefer Madness prohibitionists, the federal government has continually put up roadblocks stifling cannabis research. One of the major obstacles has been the fact that official federal research can only use cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi. No offense to Mississippi, but it’s not exactly known as a go-to locale for cannabis connoisseurs. Folks who actually know anything about cannabis understand that people tend to utilize strains that have 20% THC or more. Even those that prefer low-THC strains will often use strains that test above 20%. Unfortunately for researchers, patients, and the general public, Uncle Sam’s schwag has tested below 10% and the reviews of federal patients, including Oregon’s own Elvy Musikka, have not been kind. As Celebstoner reported, Elvy dropped out of the federal program stating that:
“They sent us a bunch of garbage with no THC. It was hemp, which I love to wear, but it didn’t do anything for my glaucoma.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its announcement that they would soon be licensing more cannabis cultivators, noted that such a move was “an important step to increase opportunities for medical and scientific research.” While it is great that the DEA is finally making this important reform, it is ridiculous that it has taken this long for the agency to do something that so obviously needed to be done a long time ago. Leafly reported:
For Matthew Zorn, a Houston-based attorney, the DEA’s decision is historic. Zorn was the co-lead lawyer in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit, “Scottsdale Research v. DOJ/DEA,” filed last year. As a result of that lawsuit, filed on behalf of SRI, the Department of Justice released a previously confidential memo from 2018 that concluded the DEA’s long-standing policy on marijuana research violated federal law, as well as U.S. treaty obligations.
SRI has made cannabis research headlines for years now, most recently for groundbreaking studies administered by Sue Sisley, a medical doctor who conducted clinic trials with military veterans to determine if cannabis is a safe and well-tolerated treatment for managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain.
With the DEA announcement, Zorn told Leafly, “scientists will be able to clinically study the types of cannabis that are being used, with real-world cannabis. A lot of people may not appreciate the importance of that, with [national cannabis] legalization around the corner. We don’t know when, but the need for this research is urgent. We can as quickly as possible start growing and have a supply for researchers to get good data.”
It’s a shame that it has taken the DEA this long and that federal patients like Elvy have had to suffer with terrible cannabis all of these years, but this is just another step in the right direction for the cannabis community. Even though federal legalization seems to be on the way in the near future, we can’t forget patients and the medicinal properties of cannabis. With better quality cannabis and the lessening of restrictions placed on research, we are only going to see more studies that demonstrate the benefits of patients.