DEA Expands Access to Marijuana for Research Purposes

Cannabis has been studied for decades by researchers hoping to discover more about the interactions that cannabinoids have with our bodies. But it hasn’t been an easy road to navigate – for over fifty years the government has blocked researchers from exploring cannabis in-depth and prevented progress with regards to potential drug development as researchers weren’t allowed to produce marijuana for research purposes. As of 1968, researchers in the United States have been permitted to study cannabis so long that it met specific criteria, including that it must only come from a facility at the University of Mississippi by contract with the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

However, fast forward to May 2021, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has indicated that they are making progress to pave the way for registered companies to produce and study cannabis for the purpose of medical and scientific discovery. When the DEA expands access to marijuana for research purposes, it will open a number of opportunities for researchers and indeed for those looking to use marijuana as part of their health routine.

The Decades-Long Struggle of Accessing Marijuana for Research Purposes

For approximately one-third of Americans, state regulations permit marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes, but the issue facing scientists and researchers is that they aren’t allowed to purchase or use cannabis that is sold at registered dispensaries because it is still an illegal drug as per federal law. Using the diluted powdery substance obtained from the authorized facility in Mississippi, scientists can only go so far in their research as they are working with a product that doesn’t accurately resemble what the cannabis community is using in the real world. Edibles, oils, concentrates, and even just flower strains with different potency levels are unable to be tested and studied for their effects on chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, multiple sclerosis, and other common ailments without the DEA expansion for access to marijuana for research purposes.

This has been a problem for decades, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. When the DEA expands access to marijuana for research purposes, this will have the potential to help researchers conduct proper studies that may lead to positive and even hopeful results for the treatment of these conditions.

There’s Still More Work to Be Done

If the DEA continues makes progress and expand access to using marijuana for research purposes, it will still be difficult for many researchers. At a federal level, cannabis is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug, and it will be difficult for scientists to obtain the special license required to work with drugs under that classification – even though there is substantially more research surrounding other Schedule 1 drugs such as MDMA. If cannabis were removed from the Schedule 1 classification altogether, it would drastically improve researchers’ ability to conduct in-depth studies on marijuana for research purposes. But for now, those who have been clamoring to conduct more of this research will certainly welcome whatever progress they can make with the DEA expansion for access to marijuana for research purposes.

If you’re interested in learning more about medical marijuana, contact our team at Medical Alternatives Clinic today.