More research needed to inform marijuana decisions

August 27th, 2015 by admin Leave a reply »

Marijuana is approved for medical use in 23 states, including Maine, but there is scant scientific evidence of its success in treating a range of conditions. That’s because marijuana research has long been tightly restricted by the federal government.

The legal marijuana market — both medical and recreational — is growing. But there is a dearth of evidence of the effectiveness of marijuana for medical purposes. Nor do we know the full extent of the dangers of recreational pot use.

Answers to these question will only come through research, which not only must be easier, but should be fast tracked so state policymakers and voters have better information as they consider increasingly common proposals to legalize marijuana.

In June, the Obama administration began to relax federal restrictions on marijuana research. It removed an extra layer of review by the Public Health Service that was required before any nongovernment funded research on medical marijuana could begin. This review — required before researchers could purchase marijuana — slowed down projects, including one examining the use of marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

There is still only one approved provider of marijuana for medical research, the University of Mississippi. Until recently, the school was only permitted to grow 21 kilograms of marijuana a year. Last year, federal regulators raised that to 650 kilograms to meet scientific and research needs.

Despite these changes, it will take years for clinical trials to

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