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Medical marijuana needs more research and an unbiased perspective

Over and over, the people of Arizona have demonstrated that they want medical marijuana. Whether in 1996, 1998, or 2010, Arizona has taken the stance that medical marijuana is a means to ameliorate the suffering of the sick. With thousands of late mail-in and provisional ballots still to be counted, Proposition 203 is still too close to call. However, these incredibly close results demonstrate that people take this issue seriously, and as such, the people deserve to have a better scientific understanding of what the medicinal properties of marijuana are. To meet this goal, additional Food and Drug Administration-approved research with marijuana must take place.

Unfortunately, privately-funded FDA approved cannabis research is hampered by a government monopoly over the marijuana supply, held by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Even when researchers obtain FDA approval for their protocols, they must contend with NIDA’s review process in order to obtain their research materials. Given the fact that NIDA’s mission is to explore the abusive potential of illicit drugs, it compromises their objectivity as to who should receive marijuana and NIDA has delayed and denied cannabis to researchers looking into cannabis’ therapeutic properties. Therefore, an additional source of marijuana is essential for providing and expanding unbiased research.

Fortunately, a Drug Enforcement Agency Administrative Law Judge found in 2007 that it is in the public interest to license Dr. Lyle Craker to cultivate marijuana. This decision should give our representatives the courage to expand cannabis research to bring this issue from the political to the scientific sphere.

– Stephen Morseman is a Phoenix resident who works for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

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