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Government Approves Research on Potential Medical Marijuana Benefits for Veterans

On March 14, 2014, the Obama Administration approved an application by the University of Arizona to conduct a study to determine whether or not marijuana can treat veterans with post-traumatic stress. Until recently, the U.S. government has prevented scientists from conducting such studies.

For years, many in the medical marijuana community have suspected that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has only directed research highlighting the ill effects of marijuana and has been against studying the medical benefits of marijuana. Approximately, 1 million Americans are using medical marijuana to legally treat their ailments. However, scientists who want to study the medical benefits of marijuana have had difficulty getting approval for such studies, because of the onerous application process.

Just to be clear, allowing the University of Arizona to conduct this study does not change the underlying policy of the government vis-à-vis medical marijuana research. This is simply recognition by the government that the University of Arizona has met official standards for research using illegal drugs. The research still requires approval of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Some scientists believe more research could help determine with more precision the ailments marijuana can treat effectively. The hope is that this may lead to regulation by the FDA of a prescription drug. This is important, they argue, because current medical marijuana users have little information with respect to the purity and potency of the marijuana they are using.

One of the main issues in this debate is the DEA classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug – which means it has the highest classification and has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Moreover, this classification indicates that it puts its users at risk of severe psychological or physical dependence. If the drug is reclassified, scientists believe they may have more latitude in conducting studies for medical benefits.

Proposition 215 established the legality medical marijuana in the State of California in 1996; it was later codified in Health and Safety Code Section HS 11362.5. HS 11362.5(a) is referred to as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It will be interesting to see if more scientists in California file an application to study the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

If you have any questions concerning medical marijuana, please contact Kern Law, APC today. I will provide you with a free consultation.