The Need For More Funding For Cannabis Research

Budding Seedling

Throughout the world, researchers are scouring for investors to fund their work with an illegal plant that has strong ties to treating epileptic seizures, Crohn’s disease, insomnia and anxiety. But despite the beneficial results that carry no harmful side effects, marijuana is still seen by many as a mysterious and stigmatized entity; a Schedule I drug. Keeping marijuana registered as a Schedule I drug impedes the federal government from providing the funds that researchers need.

Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam continues to unlock the potential of medical marijuana with daily trials that are time consuming and very expensive. His work has helped shine light on the healing power of cannabis. In 1980, Mechoulam’s work consisted of isolating tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, from the other major component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD). Mechoulam was able to significantly curb seizures in laboratory animals and treat individuals with insomnia. The strongest finding in his research was that CBD didn’t get patients high, eliminating the euphoric affect that’s undesired by many patients. The CBD in marijuana provided all the benefits that he was looking for. The results of these clinical trials were published over thirty years ago. After publishing his findings, he thought funding for larger studies would become readily available. As Mechoulam stated, “Nobody was interested.” The money wasn’t available for long term trials and his capacity to deliver concrete evidence to a larger audience was erased.

Fast forward to 2015, in a time where states are gradually changing their laws to abide to patients in need of cannabis treatment, CBD is gaining the attention that it should have gotten in the 80’s. The benefits of medical marijuana are undeniable. In March, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Corey Booker of New Jersey in presenting a bill that would reschedule cannabis to Schedule II status. Such a change means that the government recognizes the medical benefits, but its abuse is still illegal. Additionally, the 23 states that have legalized medical marijuana will protect growers and dispensaries from federal intervention.

Former U.S Attorney General Eric Holder made strives earlier in the year to bring change to federal law. In his attempts to sway the minds of members of congress, he was reminded by Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee that the attorney general has the authority to reclassify marijuana.  But he’d have to work with the DEA who have previously rejected petitions set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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