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NIDA Announces Commitment to Medical Marijuana Research


In a recent press release, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) highlighted its commitment to funding and conducting new research on the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. In the article, she pointed to a handful of recently accepted applications (the use of cannabinoids to reduce neuroinflammation caused by HIV,  cannabinoids for the treatment of breast-cancer induced bone pain) and emphasized NIDA’s goal to develop medications from marijuana that “avoid the adverse effects of smoked marijuana while maximizing its potential therapeutic benefits.”

This press release will come as a great surprise to anyone familiar with NIDA's history. Just a few months ago the organization was widely criticized for denying that marijuana is less toxic than alcohol despite a growing body of scientific findings that show otherwise.

Related: Federal Drug Agency Denies Marijuana Is Less Toxic Than Alcohol

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has long been the greatest bottleneck restricting quality medical marijuana research in the United States. NIDA is solely responsible for administering marijuana to scientists and researchers. In order to conduct research, one must first get clearance from the FDA and the DEA, this process can be extremely time consuming and arduous. Once an applicant gets clearance they must apply to get research-grade cannabis from NIDA. NIDA oversees the cultivation of marijuana at the University of Mississippi, and maintains a supply of marijuana cigarettes at varying potencies.

NIDA, whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction," has a tendency to fund and supply researchers who are studying the negative effects of cannabis use. Of the 20,000 most recent scientific articles published about marijuana only 6% were concerned with the medical applications of the plant.

Related: Why Gupta Changed His Mind

Hopefully this press release indicates a real change in NIDA’s attitudes and will mark the beginning of a new age of rigorous and legitimate cannabis research in the United States. It is significant that a federal medical institution is openly acknowledging the medicinal value of cannabis. This flies in the face of marijuana’s schedule 1 status which asserts that the drug has a high potential for abuse and has no medicinal value.

Related: the US government has a patent on the medical uses of cannabinoids

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