Research: The next frontier

In January, the National Academy of Sciences published a report on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. The report was a compilation of thousands of studies, most done since 1999 and most done on humans, not mice. USA Today heralded the report with this understated headline, “Marijuana can help some patients, but doctors say more research needed.”

May I just say, Duh?

I’ll let you read the report and draw your own conclusions. what I’d like to turn your attention to what the report’s team had to say about doing more research. There are barriers to research. Surprised? Nah, me neither.

Here are the four barriers the report cited:

  • Specific regulatory barriers, especially the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, are an impediment to the advancement of research on cannabis and cannabinoids

  • It is difficult for researchers to obtain access to the types of cannabis products necessary to address questions surrounding the health effects of human cannabis consumption

  • A diverse network of funders is needed to help support the necessary research efforts

  • Improvements and standardization of research methodologies will be needed to develop conclusive evidence for the short- and long-term health effects of cannabis use

I posted recently on Facebook about the quality of cannabis researchers are allowed to use and I have to say, it’s pretty pathetic. Given that cannabis is labeled a Schedule 1 controlled substance, researchers’ hands are tied in getting better-quality produce to study or the funding to do it.

That said, I still hold out hope that with enough demand by citizens to drop the ridiculous Schedule 1 label, cannabis will get the green light to be studied as a legitimate medical intervention. It just isn’t going to happen today, but it will. Have faith.