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Cannabis has demonstrated health benefits since ancient times. While less than 6% of today’s studies on marijuana analyze its medical properties, publications to date indicate that cannabis shows great promise for the treatment of many diseases and symptoms (Table 1). However, patients with cancer or severe pain, for example, have been blocked from these benefits since the mid-20th century when federal regulations were enacted that prohibited the use, sales and distribution of marijuana due to its psychoactive properties.


Since the 1960s, scientific research has been undermined in many countries because medical marijuana research has been blocked, primarily due to concerns with safety and efficacy. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated in 2011 that marijuana has “no accepted medical use” and should therefore remain illegal under federal law. They ruled this despite the fact that marijuana has demonstrated medical benefits for many medical disorders and symptoms, and contrary to a patent (US 6630507 B1, published in October 2003) issued to the United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Sciences claiming “…cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases”. Furthermore, there are many synthetic THC and cannabis-based drugs that have been FDA approved.


Strict scheduling and law enforcement actions have made it more difficult for researchers to obtain marijuana samples for scientific studies than LSD, MDMA, heroin and cocaine. In June, the Drug Policy Alliance and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies released a report titled “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science.” Citing case studies from 1972 to the present, this report claims that the DEA suppressed research on the positive benefits of marijuana for medicinal use.


In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a report determining that cannabinoids may play a role in treating pain and recommended that the medical community better establish the safety and efficacy of marijuana. More recently, thirty members of the US Congress sent a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary demanding an end to the federal monopoly on marijuana research so that more studies can be performed by US researchers.

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