Why can marijuana research not move forward?
03/10/2016 / By Claire Rankin / Comments
Why can marijuana research not move forward?

There is significant worldwide interest in marijuana being used for medicinal purposes. Countless people claim that marijuana has cured them of many and varied ailments. Yet the research into marijuana being used as a medicine remains severely restricted by the government.

One of the main reasons preventing research into marijuana is that it has been designated in the US as a Schedule I drug. So researchers are not granted permission by the government to grow it. In fact if anyone is in possession of a Schedule I drug, they face the harshest penalties.

Some of the reasons why marijuana is not being able to be researched for possible medicinal value are as follows:

  • Research may prove that marijuana could be used as a less-addictive alternative to treating pain than prescription painkillers. Thus it will hurt pharmaceutical companies that make money from strong painkillers.
  • Police unions fight legalizing research on marijuana because if legalized they would lose the funding they receive from their war on drugs.
  • If marijuana were researched and consequently legalized, less people would be arrested and there would be less need for rehab centers and correctional facilities. This would cut into the profits of these services.
  • There are many other groups that depend on the revenue they receive as a result of keeping marijuana illegal. So naturally they oppose legalizing research into marijuana’s possible medicinal value.

But one of the main reasons preventing research into marijuana is that it has been designated in the US as a Schedule I drug. So researchers are not granted permission by the government to grow it.


Why marijuana was designated a Schedule I drug in the first place?

Drugs are scheduled in the US from I to V – I being the most dangerous and V being the least potential for abuse.

A Schedule I drug is regarded as having no accepted medicinal value in the US.

Some other Schedule I drugs are:

  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD

A significant reason for marijuana being given a Schedule I designation was not because it was considered a dangerous drug. Rather because, in the 1930s it was negatively connected to ethnic groups such as Mexicans and African Americans. Marijuana was banned in the US in 1937 as a result of all the bad press surrounding those who used it and later in the 1970s it was given the Schedule I designation. Going forward this scheduling ultimately stymied research into its possible positive medicinal value – thus:

  • The government does not provide funds for research into the medicinal value of marijuana.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse only researches the dangerous effects of drugs in order to stop drug abuse. Thus any research on marijuana is in order to establish its negative effects on the users.
  • Because of bureaucracy and public opinion, marijuana continues to be listed as one of the most dangerous drugs with no medicinal value.

In conclusion, it appears that many stand to lose a lot of money if researchers found that marijuana indeed has medicinal value and marijuana having a Schedule I designation has been just the road block needed to prevent marijuana research from moving forward.






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