For years people have suspected and even called out the United States government for standing in the way of research on cannabis and it’s potential therapeutic benefits. At one point, many would have considered this a crazy, conspiracy theory of sorts – why would the government stand between us and something that actually had medicinal value? Well, anyone who has been saying it for years can sit back and look smug after the U.S. Drug Czar admitted this week that their theory is valid – at least somewhat.
“It’s a somewhat fair criticism that the government hasn’t wholly supported research to really investigate what’s the potential therapeutic value,” Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), told Politico’s Dan Diamond last week.
While this may come as no surprise to many of us, it is nice to finally have some sort of confirmation on the matter – and from the Drug Czar of all people. Botticelli also pointed out during the interview that the Obama Administration – while not focusing on marijuana reform – has at least taken steps to make research of the plant more accessible.
By deciding to license additional cultivation facilities to keep up with the demand for more plants and a wider variety of strains and removing unneeded review processes that were put in place for marijuana only in 1999, they have done more than any presidential administration has done in years to help move along cannabis research.
Along with this new admittance from Botticelli, new information has come up regarding the DEA’s decision in August to reject petitions to reschedule cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act. It doesn’t appear that the FDA actually agrees with the DEA decision to keep marijuana under Schedule I – or at least not the entire plant. In a document obtained by ATTN, under the Freedom of Information Act, the FDA specifically cites certain issues with the structure under which they are forced to make their decisions regarding the cannabis plant.
“[National Institute on Drug Abuse] points out that another potential area for review is the legal and regulatory framework applied to (1) the assessment of abuse liability for substances in Schedule 1 (including the comparative standard used to assess the relative risk of abuse) and (2) the assessment of currently accepted medical use for drugs that have not been approved by FDA,” the letter reads.
“While potentially daunting (depending on its nature and scope), re-evaluation of the legal and regulatory framework by DOJ/DEA and [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] could identify ways to encourage appropriate scientific research into the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana and its constituents,” says the letter, which was obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
As well as suggesting that there needs to be a change to the way the government decides how drugs should be reviewed as a part of the Controlled Substances Act, the FDA is also pushing to have CBD (cannabidiol) scheduled completely separately due to its potential therapeutic benefits.
When even the FDA is saying that regulations are too strict to make an appropriate decision, it should start to become apparent to the rest of the government that something needs to be done – and it appears that in light of this information going public, the Drug Czar wanted us to know that we’re not crazy conspiracy theorists – the government has been standing in the way of research for years. Hopefully all these changes mean they’re finally starting to realize they can’t keep a much needed medicine from us.