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article imageOp-Ed: How the federal government obstructs marijuana research Special

By Ben Morris     Jun 11, 2014 in Politics
A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance has accused the DEA of obstructing research for marijuana for more than four decades. It is an accusation supported by evidence.
It was news that came as no shock to those who have paid attention to the pro pot movement. When the DEA was accused of threatening doctors in Massachusetts who were linked to the medical marijuana movement, they further dug their noses in the lives of those who need cannabis to live a normal life.
Dr. Samuel Mazza, the chief executive of the Debilitating Medical Conditions Treatment Centers, claimed DEA investigator Gregory Kelly told him, “You either give up your [DEA] license or give up your position on the board ... or you challenge it in court.” The accusation has not be proven true, but it would come to no shock to anyone who knows the history of cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis was first used as medicine in 2737 B.C, and for hundreds of years after that, until prohibition. For many Americans, the drug is the only saving grace from a life of pain and discomfort. One of those Americans discovered the medical need for cannabis and made a brave decision to sneak cannabis oil into his dying son’s hospital room, hoping for a miracle.
In 2010, Mike Hyde’s two-year-old son Cash was diagnosed with brain cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, and cocktails of legal pharmaceutical drugs put Cash on his deathbed. As his parents were told their child wasn’t going to live, they made a fateful and brave decision.
“Not only are you worried, you’re watching your kid die,” said Hyde as he recalled making the tough decision to risk it all by providing his son with cannabis oil to treat his cancer. “You know there is something you can do, and if you do it you can lose your healthy kid, you can lose your sick kid, and you could go to prison.” What happened after the Hyde’s injected the oil into a tube in Cashy’s stomach was a miracle.
Cash sat up on his bed, he smiled. After 45 days he was able to eat again. “When Cashy took a bite of a grilled cheese sandwich ... it was the most amazing feeling,” revealed a father who had his son again. Doctors were shocked Cashy was alive.
Shortly after Cash returned home, The Obama DEA committed an all out assault on dispensaries in Montana that culminated in the loss of Hyde’s oil supply. His son could not maintain his treatment, and the cancer returned. Cash Hyde passed away in late 2012.
Back in 2000, Dr. Manual Guzman and his team at Complutense University in Spain were, “very interested in how (cannabis) receptors control the proliferation and the survival of different kinds of cells,” The conclusion suggested cannabis has potential to, “inhibit the expansion and the spreading of cancer cells.” The study went virtually ignored and only recently made waves on the internet. Because the study is without human subjects, confirmation of a cure is vacant, but many doctors, and researchers are using studies like Guzman’s to encourage more study of marijuana.
In 2008, the American College of Physicians released a position paper in which they wrote, “Preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana,” the organization added, “research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process [and] limited availability of research-grade marijuana.” When an organization of physicians calls for the study of marijuana, the federal government should listen, and change the process. That process does not make the study of cannabis attractive to researchers and doctor. In order to study the medical usage of marijuana, a time consuming process must be completed before research can even begin.
Scientists have to sign an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA to study new drugs, which becomes nearly impossible with the schedule 1 classification of marijuana. Pharmaceutical companies also have to sign the IND application, but their process is easier. Free of a classification, their drug gets reviewed by the FDA, and a separate review board before the drug is tested on humans. For the study of marijuana, a researcher then has to get a grow license from the DEA, an approval to study the drug from the FDA, before they attempt to get research grade marijuana from the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse.) That process is one many researchers avoid. The scientists who do, face obstacles they can never overcome due to the classification of marijuana, and NIDA’s refusal to even give marijuana research a chance.
Testifying in front of a DEA Administrative Judge in 2006, Dr Stephen Gust, Special Assistant to the Director of NIDA admitted that, “it’s not NIDA’s mission to study the medical uses of marijuana or to advocate for such research.” That honesty is proven by numbers, in the last 35 years, less than 20 randomized controlled studies have been conducted on marijuana. That same judge concluded, “NIDA’s system for evaluating requests for marijuana research has resulted in some researchers who hold DEA registrations and the requisite approval from the Department of Health and Human Services being unable to conduct their research because NIDA has refused to provide them with marijuana."
The refusal to fund research is a viscous circle used in decisions by the courts to reject the re-classification of marijuana. In a case brought to the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, by Americans for Safe Access, against the DEA, the court ruled against the ASA by saying a lack of, "adequate and well-controlled studies," prevents the changing of cannabis’ scheduling. They have promised to keep fighting a scheduling that ignores, “thousands, and thousands of examples,” of sick people being alleviated of pain, and discomfort. ASA spokesman Kris Hermes claims, “Research becomes more complicated, (with the scheduling); ---marijuana has unique restrictions on obtaining research grade cannabis.”
Those restrictions are preventing millions of Americans from getting the only medicine that can help them lead normal lives. If America is land of the free, politicians would not get in the way of potentially historic scientific discovery. In a free market, researchers would have free reign to obtain cannabis, and study it, but the political cowards in Washington, can’t take a risk in promoting medical marijuana research without risking re-election. If the politicians in Washington had any morality, they would allow marijuana to be researched for the sake of the millions of sick Americans who are desperate to live healthy and normal lives.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Marijuana, Medical Marijuana, cannabis cancer, Drug policy alliance, Dea
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