I’m genuinely curious about the depth at which medical marijuana research (and indeed, weed use in general) is supported. With the rise of legalization and ballots supporting at least some form of decriminalization, dedicated research should also be increasing.
According to Politico.com — at the end of 2018 — the obstacles laid against pot research were frustrating at best. But what does that look like now?
Pot is still classified as a schedule 1 narcotic, and federally, is still illegal. Consequently, any allocated funding towards deep research on its use and long term benefits and/or side effects had been virtually nonexistent. However, will the rise in legal availability of weed mean an increase in funding for research, too?
The status of marijuana as a narcotic used to mean extreme limitations on the research that could be done.
First of all, let’s get one of my favorite philosophical cliches out of the way: those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. While “not necessarily” is a retort that comes to mind with this statement, it’s worth noting that we seem to be right back to where we were in the early 1920s, in a sense. You know, before all the Reefer Madness of denouncing pot’s legitimacy as a medicine.
In the 1920s, marijuana was being researched. That says something. It was common practice for doctors to prescribe pot as a pain med, and pot was made available to patients who needed it. But as new medications came to replace pot (mostly the rise of opioids like morphine, vicodin, and aspirin too), the decline in patient prescriptions happened. And enter the beginning evolution of opioids after heroin and opium.
Pot was officially categorized as a schedule 1 narcotic and made it to ‘federally criminal’ status. So naturally, research of medical marijuana declined and eventually came to a standstill. Up until recently pot was still a tricky research topic for a number of reasons.
But here we are today, watching as more and more states legalize and add medical and recreational pot legalization bills to their ballots. Already we’ve seen the effects — economically, socially, and medically — in states that have completely decriminalized pot.
Which presses another question: with more access to pot, will research be supported to find what we’ve seemed to know all along? And are there other sides to that coin?
Increases in marijuana’s legality — both medical and recreational — among a number of U.S. states means more accessibility for the public.
This is both a positive and negative effect of legalizing pot. Here is the other side of that previously mentioned coin: there are findings to suggest that pot may have negative long term effects on young users’ memory and retention. But then the catch: stop using pot for a few days to a month, and your cognition seems to come right back. A study which was published last year suggests both negative impacts and positive outcomes for adolescent brain function with respect to chronic pot use.
We need more investors who are willing to support the research of pot that gives us this information.
With more and more availability comes the responsibility to educate not just teens and youth, but the public as a whole, with the mission to banish myths and strengthen truth behind pot’s use. With a closer look at pot through research, we’ll better know the positive and negative effects of use. This is the way it works for medicine. Research the drug, find benefits and side effects, experiment with extreme variables, yada yada. Where there are researchers willing to do the studying, there are many more organizations that are against funding it.
The truth is, in order to provide accurate medical and scientific information, we need to make funding and supply available to the appropriate research facilities and staff. No more obstacles.
What’s the outlook on medical marijuana?
While we are seeing a rise in decriminalization of pot around the U.S., until it is legalized at the federal level, private investors are going to continue to be, really, the only entities funding marijuana research.
But with organizations like NCCIH rolling out opportunities for research funding, and 2019’s outlook for more involvement of private organizations into marijuana’s medical research, it’s safe to say there’s a pretty good chance that we’ll see more states legalizing weed as well as more funding into objective scientific research.
Already, the industry has seen a climb in pot stocks, and CBD products are legal in all 50 U.S. states — providing there is no trace of THC compounds in the products. It’s just a matter of time until weed’s status as an illicit drug is changed to that of a highly beneficial medicinal drug.