A Flurry of Government Cannabis Research Activity

There’s a lot going on with medical cannabis research and the US government of late. It seems a house divided with marijuana still being a Schedule 1 prohibited substance and these new focuses of interest unfolding.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

A month ago the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an agency within the US Health and Human Services, granted the University of Florida $3.2 million dollars for cannabis research. The 5-year study focuses on delivering evidence of how medical marijuana helps victims of HIV. So, the clinical research will follow 400 current medicinal users with HIV.

The cannabis research project seeks conclusive evidence to guide patients, health care practitioners, and public health authorities. The university’s announcement of the study states an interest in safe dosage and the effects of various cannabinoid components. (Sound like progress? Perhaps quite the opposite. Investigate NIDA’s checkered past.) But we won’t know the outcome of this research until about 2023-24 due to the time-consuming process of getting the journal paper(s) published.

Cannabis research

US House of Representative’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

A day earlier, on October 26th, the US House of Representative’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs sent a letter to the Veterans Administration urging cannabis research for PTSD and chronic pain. It seems the VA is blocking federally approved cannabis testing on veterans struggling to cope with PTSD. Even though the FDA has stated their approval for the ongoing study. A surprising turn of events given the agency’s recent squashing of marketing CBD as beneficial to victims of cancer and other serious illnesses.

Veterans groups, including the American Legion, have also been pressuring the VA to stop being a roadblock to the research. Getting conclusive proof that cannabis can provide relief to serve in the armed forces is critical research. It looks like the House Committee’s requested response deadline came and went in silence from VA Secretary David Shulkin.

Medical Cannabis

The members of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are all Democrats, but GOP leaders are just as frustrated over what’s going on. The DOJ’s blocking DEA approval for proposed expert cannabis research proposals draws criticism from Senators Rand Paul and Orrin Hatch. Sessions continue to sit on the fence over anything marijuana-related and in this case, it’s only studying it. The first step to changing its Federal Schedule status.

There’s really only one reason to sit on a request,” Senator Jared Polis (D-CO) tells Rolling Stone. “Because you suspect that perhaps the science will show that medical marijuana does have some therapeutic benefit and therefore disprove the need for the failed war on marijuana.



  • One applicant for Pennsylvania’s new clinical cannabis producer license wants to grant the University of Pittsburgh for cannabis research. However, until the state approves the license, the company cannot deliver the private funding. So, the university’s School of Medicine hopes the license is granted. They will use the grant for clinical testing of disease-specific benefits for healthcare industry guidance.
  • Just across the invisible border through Lake Ontario, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University recently launched a collaborative cannabis research project. The Ontario facility will study the actual effectiveness of medical marijuana on a variety of health issues.
  • Finally, but perhaps most notably, a 12-year-old Colorado resident is suing US Attorney General Sessions, the DEA, and the US government. Why? Because federal marijuana prohibition removes her right to visit her grandparents in Texas. She cannot function normally for a single day without cannabis oil. No cannabis research needed, she is living proof. But taking her medicine to Gramma’s house will make her a ward of the state. Talk about blocking the girl’s right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. While some will see this as a nuisance lawsuit, it’s not being handled as such. The Federal Court denied the government’s motion to dismiss in September.Alexis Bortell

I don’t know about you, but Oregon Representative Blumenauer’s comments to the Rolling Stone seem most fitting:

It’s just insane… the most visible manifestation of how incoherent our policies are and that the federal government is the biggest impediment to not having the information that people say they want.

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Images courtesy of Tony WebsterJeffOnWire, and WebMD  (respectively).

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On a mission to get to the bottom of things, Agent Green digs far and wide in the pursuit of truth.