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Federal Government Removes Big Barrier To Marijuana Research


marijuana science research cannabisA very significant victory was achieved today in regards to marijuana research. One of the biggest barriers to research approval was removed. Below are reactions from Tom Angell from the Marijuana Majority, Neill Franklin from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the Drug Policy Alliance:

From Tom Angell - ”The president has often said that drug policy should be dictated by unimpeded science instead of ideology, and it’s great to see the Obama administration finally starting to take some real action to back that up. But there’s more to be done. The next step should be moving marijuana out of Schedule I to a more appropriate category, which the administration can do without any further Congressional action. Given what the president and surgeon general have already said publicly about marijuana’s relative harms and medical uses, it’s completely inappropriate for it to remain in a schedule that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value. Hopefully today’s action is a sign of more to come.”


From Neill Franklin - ”This is a small step, but an important one,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group working to end the War on Drugs. “And that’s how we’re going to end this drug war eventually. Through a series of small but important steps.”


From the Drug Policy Alliance –

In a long-sought move anticipated by many marijuana reform advocates, the White House today announced that it was removing a major obstacle to marijuana research – the Public Health Service (PHS) Review. “This announcement shows that the White House is ready to move away from the war on medical marijuana, and enable the performance of legitimate and necessary research,” said Bill Piper, Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “This is progress, but the White House should also end the NIDA’s unique monopoly on marijuana production, and allow private entities to grow marijuana, thus facilitating even more important research.”

The PHS Review was introduced by the Clinton Administration. At the time, the Institute for Medicine was one of the first major entities to call for more research on marijuana. But they urged the Clinton Administration to ensure the process was as controlled as possible. The Clinton Administration response was  to make the Department of Health and Human Services conduct an individual review of all applications for all marijuana research. This bureaucratic hurdle meant that research for marijuana was heavily slowed, and also meant that it became more difficult to study marijuana than to study cocaine and heroin. Today’s announcement was published in the federal register.

Marijuana advocates have called for years for the elimination of the PHS review, and its elimination was included in the CARERS Act, the groundbreaking medical marijuana bill introduced in the Senate this year by Senators Booker, Paul and Gillibrand. The research section of the bill also calls for an end to NIDA’s monopoly on marijuana production. This move by the Obama Administration comes just days before a June 24 Senate hearing on medical marijuana. On Friday, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics, chaired by Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced a hearing entitled “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits.”

“There’s huge momentum surrounding marijuana reform, and this is just the latest example. This year we have seen the introduction of the CARERS ACT, passage of amendments in the House and Senate to stop federal interference in medical marijuana, a hearing on medical marijuana and this positive step from the White House, said Bill Piper. “Our objective of moving the CARERS Act piece by piece is bearing fruit, and there will be more to come this year.”

Largely out of public view, for more than four decades DEA and NIDA/PHS have blocked drug development research by maintaining a government monopoly on the supply of marijuana that can legally be used in research. This frustrating reality belies the recent pronouncements of pundits and policymakers implying that the FDA has already dismissed the medical benefits of marijuana or that proponents have simply failed to explore FDA approval.  While there is a plethora of scientific research establishing marijuana’s safety and efficacy, the specific FDA clinical trials necessary to bring the marijuana plant to market as a prescription medicine have been obstructed.

Marijuana remains the only Schedule I drug that DEA prohibits from being produced by private laboratories for scientific research. Although DEA has licensed multiple privately-funded manufacturers of all other Schedule I drugs, it permits just one facility, located at the University of Mississippi, to produce marijuana for research purposes. This facility, under contract with NIDA, holds a literal monopoly on the supply of marijuana available to scientists, including researchers seeking to conduct FDA-approved studies of the plant’s medical properties — studies that, of course, squarely conflict with NIDA’s mission to study drug abuse.  Unlike research with any other drugs, until now all protocols had to be approved by PHS and NIDA.

Currently, 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have legalized marijuana for a variety of medicinal purposes – and an additional 16 states have passed laws to allow access to CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana that has proven uniquely effective in managing epileptic seizures that afflict children. Four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – have legalized marijuana like alcohol. In 2016, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are expected to decide ballot initiatives on the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use. A slew of recent polls show that significant majorities of both Democrats and Republicans strongly believe that the decision of whether and how to regulate marijuana should be left up to the states.

DPA Fact Sheet: Removing Marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act

DPA Fact Sheet: Medical Marijuana


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. Sometimes I vote Green Party. It depends on the candidate and what platform they stand on. If they have a particular push for one agenda, and it suits me, I strongly consider them as an option.

  2. SO, you vote Glibertarian, which is, basically, a vote to get rid of the EPA and any of those other pesky government agencies that try to stop businesses from cost-shifting negative externalities onto the rest of us?

    How green of you.

  3. My charity will be the S.T.E.P. program in Oregon. Lumber destroyed riparian areas could always use a bit more restoration. Looks like it might be a bit of a difficulty getting them the money so I may end up having to find an alternate option, but that is my preferred for the time being.

  4. I haven’t voted Republican, or Democrat, in 3 presidential cycles for what that is worth.

  5. “I am a Libertarian who tree hugs”

    Not if you vote Republican you don’t.

    You’re on. My charity is the Climate Science Defense Fund.

  6. You are on. I tried to post something earlier today about candidates, but the moderator clearly thought it was not worth keeping. Such is life.

  7. Sorry I have been away: looking for a job in this “improved economy” has been rough to say the least.

    I will take that bet. $100 dollars is a nice number and a fun sum.

    Lindsey Graham said that he was not in favor of legalization for recreation, but he is game for application when it comes to medicine. Is it a resounding stamp of approval? No, but it is a stronger stance than many have taken.

    Of course Rand Paul is the golden child. Paul – proposed protections for medical marijuana users and has been at the forefront of the fight for veterans to receive cannabis as an option to remedy many ailments war vets face.

    Carly Fiorina has publicly supported state’s rights to legalize marijuana though she did mention she personally does not support legalization, but how is that any different from most of the pack wishing to be elected?

    She also mentioned that she that “When we incarcerate people for abuse of drugs, we are not helping them,”. This statement speaks to her supposed understanding that an alternate approach to incarceration is key in fighting the unwinnable war on drugs.

    To reiterate though, I am on board for $100 to where ever you want providing Obama reschedules by the end of his term. Funny thing is I am a Libertarian who tree hugs so you and I might actually want money to be spent in similar areas, but who knows.

  8. PhDScientist on

    Call the white house comment line and ask that the president remove it from sched 1. keep calling until he does it.

  9. PhDScientist on

    The President needs to take the lead on this and get Marijuana removed from Schedule 1 IMMEDIATELY.

  10. Obama is letting recreational legalization proceed. Would a Republican Prez have allowed that? I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.
    I find it bizarre, he’s done more for recreational users than he has for MMJ users. For reasons of compassion and science, and because of the very, very strong support for MMJ in public opinion, I would have expected the opposite.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he rescheduled as part of the Dems plan for the 2016 election.

  11. I also have been reading about different law’s with regards to pot and driving. Per sae law’s here in Colorado. Meaning if you get pulled over. They can decide you smoked last week. You go straight to jail. It’s all based around molecules. I don’t agree with some of the presumably guess work. Seemingly you don’t have to have done anything. They could pull me over tomorrow and see i have a red card and presume I’ve gotten high. It would not have very good outcome for them because I’m clean. Meanwhile the damage has been done. I only care about the cbd’s. The law doesn’t care. Period. I’m legally disabled and have been for 8 years. To all the good people that need the medicine and don’t want the high. It’s disturbing to know I can’t help myself get off narcotics because law puts pot scheduled 1. Disheartening to say the least.

  12. Do not forget the honorable Francis Young’s recommendation, which was ignored by the warmongers

  13. I’d like to add to a comment topic that was going on earlier in the week. Probation and a medical card. I reported that my po’s acknowledgement of me getting a medical card. Bill 1267 that just passed in may. They don’t see any reason to ask the judge to order me not to have the card. And they won’t do anything if I turn a dirty ua. However, she warned me about not being around pot, cbd, medically. Because I have a restraining order and it’s considered a controlled substance. So, just because you can smoke or whatever, while you’re on probation. She said she couldn’t tell me how the law (cops). Are going to view this. I still could be arrested for having a controlled substance. What a catch 22. I’m so disappointed. I’m now searching and reading about hemp oil. Cbd’s. Legal or otherwise can still get you in trouble. Silently whinning.

  14. Obama wants to have “healthcare reform” and “I ended the war in Afghanistan” as his legacy and spot in the history books. He’ll leave the Mary Jane legalization issues for the next guy. He may do little things to make it appear like he’s looking into it. But he will not make any major changes like declassification of Cannabis.

  15. Whyiowa4medical on

    What we must do and what we must demand is these research entities use cannabis, or direct extract of cannabis. I have run into so much research conducted by the FDA, NIDA, and several other entities the government listens to using only a group of THC resembling drugs. Spice is becoming “old hat,” but if you look up research compounds you will find a drug called CT-2 which is 45 times stronger than 100% THC. These drugs are the exact equivalent of using “Chicago trash can” PCP to study the effects of psilocybin. Holding a degree in medicine I could buy these compounds, but I will not risk my own, nor anyone else’s life on these dangerous compounds. So, if further research is required, let us make certain it is done using cannabis, NOT THC-like compounds. There is an entire grouping of these compounds to research everything including LSD, opiates, and THC at an estimated guess of 10 to 45 times the danger. The Erowid site agrees and cites the extreme danger even more radically than I use in my language. The use of Spice, K-2, and CT-2 must be debunked so only the real McCoy is studied, not compounds resembling THC!!!
    Yes, Nixon jumped the gun!!! During those times there were more doctors and patients arrested as the Controlled Substance laws were enacted so quickly they caught so many doctors by surprise, especially the “good ol’ family doctor” that one actually enjoyed going to see. There were many who got mad at a slap on the wrist and opened business as a “diet clinic” giving what is today Adderall for daytime use and methaqualone as your night time sedative. Even a tall and normally thin person like myself could pay to get on the “diet plan.” Thus, the birth of the pill mill, directly caused by these laws.

  16. If you are interested in getting extra profit averaging $50 to $300 on daily basis for doing simple work at your home for several hours a day then this may interest you…

  17. AethiopicPecan on

    I do not understand how the federal government can deny research? We should be challenging the Federal Government’s classification of cannabis. It’s too bad the DEA doesn’t have to provide any evidence in support
    of its scheduling marijuana into Schedule 1, yet the U.S. Govt. itself owns a patent, #6,630,507, which
    states that THC “…has been shown to be neuroprotective in cell
    cultures”. The 38 page patent, as well as other prior patents
    and reports cited therein extoll the medical benefits of THC and
    other cannabinoids as free radical scavengers and
    neuroprotectants. The patent claims as it’s “invention”
    cannabinoids produced without the psychoactive effect so that
    it can be administered in very large doses to prevent damage
    from acute ischemic attacks, etc. It appears that the Joseph
    Elford was correct and that the Federal Government speaketh
    with forked tongue.
    Back in 1970, when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act,
    they temporarily labeled marijuana a “Schedule I substance”.
    Congress realizing that more information was needed about
    marihuana before permanently labeling it Schedule I, created a
    presidential commission to review the research and recommend a
    long-term strategy.The Shafer Commission, or the Nixon appointed
    National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse was
    commissioned to determine what classification the drug should
    Although it was stacked with persons whom Nixon felt would
    be tough on drugs (and they were), their ultimate conclusion was that
    “Marihuana’s relative potential for harm to the vast majority of
    individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a
    social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use
    Further, the Appellate Court’s opinion that states there is “no
    currently accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States”
    ignores not only all of the doctors who prescribe marijuana in the US,
    but the studies their decisions are based upon. Including a 1999
    review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of
    Sciences, the nation’s most prestigious scientific advisory agency,
    which found marihuana to be, “moderately well suited for particular
    conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and
    AIDS wasting.” There are actually so many scientific medical articles
    on the subject that just listing them would be a herculean effort.
    Needless to say, however, is the fact that with your eyes tightly
    closed, you will never see the evidence before you.

  18. Sensible advocate on

    When did the weed blog become trashy political comment section from my local paper? There is more name calling and denigration here lately than on the world wrestling federation Saturday night slam.
    Is it not possible that we discuss ways to further the prospect of legalization among people in our respective parties so that which ever party wins all herb enthusiasts will come out ahead? Why is necessary to bash each other when we are all on the same side of this issue?

  19. Remember this class
    The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

  20. You talk about how wonderful the democrats are in regard to legalization, but I still don’t seen any changes coming down the pike.

  21. Get a grip, he’s had nearly two terms to reschedule it and all he’s done is, oh yeah, nothing!
    He’s only one excuse away from the next excuse.

  22. They all say what the audience in front of them wants to hear, it’s called politics…at the end of the day nothing meaningful has resulted, as usual.

  23. I’d like to know why the President is being incremental when the evidence shows that Rescheduling is warranted. He could cite Nixon’s Shafer Commission. Claim the Republican President made a big mistake.

  24. Well said, friend. Long arc of the moral universe and all. Remember, Frederick Douglass helped Lincoln “evolve.”

    Marijuana is the new gay marriage.

  25. Lawrence Goodwin on

    I guess it’s time to write the man another polite letter asking for just that, Scott. The more of us who do so, the merrier. The U.S. Congress works about as fast as molasses in a deep freeze. Remove the farcical word “marihuana” at least to Schedule III, as a bunch of congresswomen and men urged the president last year, or entirely erase that nonsense from federal legal code. I first wrote President Barack Obama in regards to this issue in late summer 2013, imploring him thusly: “For those Americans, like me, who demand a new federal approach to cannabis policy, there is little reason to hope and no real signs of change.” Mr. Obama (or a staffer) wrote me back in a letter dated January 6, 2014, saying, “Perspectives like yours are important to me–they give me a window into the real-life concerns of the American people, and they inform the decisions I make as President….Please know I word hard every day to do right by people like you.” Yet, this new action is not enough. We fast approach 8 full decades of this madness. Ink on paper is STILL mightier than any weapon wielded by the Anti-Marihuana Tyranny.

  26. Oh, and how much? $100? Loser pays winner’s charity. If you’re a Republican, you probably won’t like mine.

    Also, you asked which Democrats. Well, Hillary is moving away from her old hippie punching positions, but there are other people running, mostly to her her left if they can get there.


    > Lincoln Chafee – Democrat

    > The former governor of Rhode Island, U.S. senator and mayor and city councilor of Warwick has signed marijuana reforms into law and pushed for changes to federal policy. Previously a Republican and then an independent, he’s now running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    > As governor, he signed legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    > He also joined with then-Washington Governor Christine Gregoire to petition the federal government to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II.

    Then Hillary:

    > “On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now,” she said. “I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

    This is a big move in the right direction for her.

    O’Mally’s there. He’s not great, but he’s evolving.

    And then there’s Bernie.

    > as a House member, Sanders repeatedly voted in favor of an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. He also co-sponsored the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, a bill to reschedule cannabis and provide greater protections for medical patients.

    Your turn.

  27. You going to address what we were talking about or jerk off in public?

    Diogenes was a cynic. If you told him Republicans were the party to vote for when it comes to legalizing weed, he’d call you a bullshitter. Just like I have.


    91% of Dems voted for keeping the DEA out of medicinal programs, only 22% of Republicans did.

    94% of Democrats voted to keep the feds out of pot banking, only 20% of Republicans did.

    Now, please, read that again and stop pulling shit out of your ass.

    And I asked you specifically: would John McCain or Willard “What’s Hemp” Romney have done this? Why do you not answer?

  28. ” documentary called “The Culture High”.”

    Adjusted for inflation or not?

    PR is PR and changing rules about research is changing rules.

    I didn’t say the people didn’t bring about change. I said progressive democrats have been trying to end the drug war for a long time. They’re not just starting to talk about it now, they’ve been talking about it for decades because the people they represent suffer the most from it.

    Do you keep up at all?

    “Source for early presidential candidates discussing marijuana? Any news outlet worth is salt.”

    OK, I’m searching and not seeing anything about presidential candidates talking about marijuana except Paul and Sanders.

    So, please, help this poor boy out. Site your sources. Who are the Republican presidential candidates talking about marijuana?

    “they are the ones discussing the issue.”

    Just because you don’t listen to democrats doesn’t mean they’re not talking. Sanders is talking. Hillary has said we should look at rescheduling. That’s a big step for her. Where’s Jeb(!)? Where’s Walker? Where’s Rubio?

    Seriously. You’ve got the same horrible grasp on this stuff as the rest of the wingnuts here at the weed blog. Please go bet on Republicans to win the Presidency. I’d like to take some money from you, too.


    Now, all that being said, I’m not happy with Obama’s pace on this. Plenty of good criticism on him on this issue.

    For example:


    But the question before us in 2008 and 2012 was would he be better on that issue than John McCain and Willard Romney. And that’s an easy question to answer.


    Next year, we’ll get to choose something similar. And the GOP nominee will Not be more pot friendly than Hillary.

    Now, please, tell me which Republicans have been talking soft on pot besides Rand Paul (who wants to give it to big Pharma).

  29. Source for numbers from credible documentary called “The Culture High”.
    PR is PR, you feel free to believe what you want to.
    The people did not bring about this change? What world are you living in? We the people have been the ones to create measures and demand change. It is called an initiative process, perhaps you’ve heard of it.
    Got me on the Green Party =) Everyone makes mistakes.
    Source for early presidential candidates discussing marijuana? Any news outlet worth is salt. Are you keeping up at all?
    Republicans do have the upper hand they are the ones discussing the issue. How many potential democratic potentials have you heard uttering any peeps about marijuana?
    The political posturing is in the hands of Republicans currently and it will sway some voters that are on the fence.

  30. “has spent more than the last two presidents combined to fight marijuana legalization on any front, be it medical or recreational.”

    Source? Adjusted for inflation? Or just bullshit you pulled out of thin air?

    “It is called PR”

    It’s called small, incremental steps in the right direction. You think this move is PR, or do you think it will actually make research easier?

    Hint: the last one is what the scientists say.

    “This legalization and legitimization movement has come from the people and no one else.”

    Bullshit. The Congressional Progressive Caucus had been down with this for a long time now. But you don’t hear about them, so you think they don’t exist. What’s worse, you say this stuff with such conviction, but so little sourcing.

    “This move is political and nothing more.”

    No, this move removes a barrier to research. Did you read the freaking story?

    “Many Libertarians and Green Peace”

    You mean Green party?

    If you gave a shit about facts, you’d know that progressive Democrats like Barney Frank (and many others) have been pushing this issue for years.

    “most of those candidates happen to be Republican.”


    “Republicans currently have the upper hand on the issue and Democrats are trying to get back in the game, nothing more.”

    More bullshit.

    91% of Dems voted for keeping the DEA out of medicinal programs, only 22% of Republicans did.

    94% of Democrats voted to keep the feds out of pot banking, only 20% of Republicans did.

    Look it up! It’s true!

  31. You may friend are in dire need of a “Colonoscopy”

    Diogenes , a man known to walk around in the daylight with a lantern, so he can find / see the Truth in man.

    And yes I would love to debate you and your thought process as I too have studied the Temporal Arts, as it reflects to Police Behavioral Science. Trust me it’s a lot more than just a B.A. More in the area of Criminal Forensic Sociology PhD. or as you may know by T V “Behavioral Science”,
    Warning.. you are screwing with the wrong person, in this area..

    I have interviewed David Berkowitz ,(Son Of Sam) a man of pure evil. have you. I think not or ever will. I worked in the armpit of humanity and it wears me to this day. They call it “Latent PTSD” (Read Fox’s paper out of Temple)
    I will not even go into 911.

    Ps,, FYI he {David} was a Democrat,, go figure. and also a mail man, there must be some connection.

  32. I would take that bet. He is making very small public concessions while his administration has spent more than the last two presidents combined to fight marijuana legalization on any front, be it medical or recreational.
    It is called PR and his administration has been masterful.
    This legalization and legitimization movement has come from the people and no one else. We have forced the establishments’ hands and now to save face the democratic party has appear to make meaningful movements toward ending prohibition. This move is political and nothing more.
    Many Libertarians and Green Peace advocates are looking to the next wave of candidates that are discussing rescheduling and most of those candidates happen to be Republican.
    Don’t under estimate the power of fickle voting and that there is most certainly a chance for marijuana to be on the docket during the primaries.
    Republicans currently have the upper hand on the issue and Democrats are trying to get back in the game, nothing more.

  33. We only get two choices for President. Sucks, I know. I don’t get Bernie Sanders and you don’t get whatever whacko Glibertarian you want. So, when we vote for the least of evils, we should keep in mind that we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Now, tell me, HCVie, would John McCain or Willard “What’s Hemp” Romney have done this?

    Diogenes was a cynic (Got a BA in Philosophy, so I didn’t need Google to know that). Any good cynical person looking at the state of marijuana politics today knows damn well what I know:

    91% of Dems voted for keeping the DEA out of medicinal programs, only 22% of Republicans did.

    94% of Democrats voted to keep the feds out of pot banking, only 20% of Republicans did.

    I have more, if you care about facts.

    Now, how much you want to bet Obama reschedules before he leaves office?

  34. Smoke and mirrors Scotty,, You must see trough the smoke to see the mirror. And all you will see in the mirror is “Your Reflection”. Diogenes (google him). a smart man.
    Sorry we cant beam you up, The transporter does not work will with Democrat’s. Their genes get mixed up during transport. Live long and prosper or at least live long.

  35. So, anyone want to bash this President as having been worse than Bush on pot?

    Maybe someone will take my even money offer that Obama will reschedule before he leaves office?

  36. It would be nice if they just took all of their existing data, along with the private sector’s data, and just removed another host of road blocks to desheduling after reading the available information.

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