U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has been a proponent of marijuana legalization and now wants to reclassify Marijuana to make it easier for researchers to study the drug.
"Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system," Adams said during a conference on drug recovery. "I'll take it somewhere else, marijuana. We need to look at the way we schedule different medications across the board because one of the concerns that I have with marijuana is the difficulty that the folks have to do research on it, because of the scheduling system."
Marijuana: A Schedule I Controlled Substance
Under current U.S. Law, marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance, putting it in league with cocaine and heroin. Classifying it as a schedule I controlled substance makes it difficult for companies to research the herb for medicinal value.
When changed to a schedule II controlled substance, marijuana can be viewed on a larger scale as having medicinal value. Therefore, specialists can use marijuana for medical treatment. Researchers could gain greater access to marijuana without fear of legal repercussions under the current laws.
Unfortunately, both the current laws and cultural biases that exist against marijuana prevent universities and research programs from exploring the medicinal benefits of marijuana or securing the funding they need to conduct research. Reclassifying marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug would open these doors for researchers to test marijuana and make breakthrough discoveries for potential health benefits.
Exploring the Medical Benefits of Marijuana
Because the cannabis plant is made up of hundreds of chemical entities, scientists have much to learn about the chemical compounds that could provide medical treatment for a wide range of health issues.
The Surgeon General expressed this sentiment late last year.
“While I support local solutions to help solve our national public health challenges, they must be led by science-driven policy. Currently, NIH funded research on marijuana is pressing forward and we are making progress in studying marijuana and its impact on the human brain, body, and behavior as well as on our communities. We should continue to seek ways to encourage and enable research to best inform policies regarding the potential medicinal properties of marijuana.”
Political Support for Marijuana Still Missing
The United States remains behind Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in marijuana research due to draconian and antiquated anti-cannabis laws.
The current ban on marijuana use due to the schedule I Classification has all but halted its widespread support in the scientific community. Researchers that are confident of marijuana’s medicinal benefits are hesitant to express their views publicly due to the political impact (not the scientific or medical impact) of the issue and fear of losing funding for other research programs.
Reversing the excessively rigid and restraining laws for cannabis in the United States remains essential for maximizing the medicinal benefits of cannabis. This can only be achieved through legislative processes. Until legislation favors marijuana reschedule, patients who could benefit from medical marijuana use are still being denied potential treatment.
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