Despite the fact that the U.S. federal government has steadfastly refused to change the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant, they are reportedly handing out millions to researchers in order to explore its effectiveness in treating symptoms experienced by HIV patients. Will this ridiculously overt display of federal government hypocrisy regarding cannabis medicine end up being a net positive?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently awarded a team of scientific researchers at the University of Florida a $3.2 million grant in order to determine what just about every medical cannabis supporter already pretty much knows – whether the plant medicine will alleviate ailments caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). According to the press release from UF Health, this will be the largest study of its kind.
Dr. Robert Cook, director of UF’s Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium, will oversee the study. He and his team have already successfully published over a dozen papers related to treating HIV with cannabis medicine.
“Marijuana use is increasingly common in persons living with HIV infection,” Cook said in a statement. “Yet, past findings regarding the health impact of marijuana use on HIV have been limited and inconclusive. Unlike other government-funded studies, most of which are designed to show the negative effects of the cannabis plant, this five-year exploration will serve to guide clinical and safety recommendations for marijuana use.”
While it is important to scientifically prove its effectiveness without a shadow of a doubt, the overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence pouring in from patients suffering from a myriad of diseases will lead any unbiased thinker to the conclusion that cannabis is at least an alternative or supplemental medicine for said diseases. Thus, the notion that over three million has been allocated to research one disease is encouraging, yet simultaneously puzzling.
Cook and his team’s goal with this study is to figure out how cannabis impacts patient behavior and its “effects on the body, including chronic inflammation and viral suppression.”
Researchers at UF Health will follow 400 cannabis users in an effort to “identify patterns of use most strongly associated with control of patient symptoms, such as pain, stress and sleep problems”.
There are more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. that are currently living with HIV, according to HIV.gov. About one in seven have not been diagnosed. In the U.S. alone, HIV claims more than 6,000 lives each year.
Despite the federal government’s hypocrisy, this head-scratching grant comes after some very promising data when it comes to cannabis treating HIV and preventing AIDS. Recently, a study that was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS) indicates that HIV patients who use medical cannabis have a higher likelihood of halting the progression of AIDS.