The Washington Times reports on Connecticut encouraging research into medical marijuana.
Connecticut is encouraging hospitals, research facilities and universities to look into the medicinal properties of marijuana to better understand its potential, and boost the biotech industry of the state.
Some research is already underway, but state officials hope the initiative initiated on the 1st of October will speed up approval for medical marijuana studies. A review board approved by the Department of Consumer Protection will evaluate all proposals, and projects will be protected under the state’s medical marijuana law, which has been in place for 4 years.
Federal law should no longer restrict research
Federal laws should no longer restrict researchers, as recent legislation prevents federal government from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs.
Jonathan Harris, Department of Consumer Protection commissioner, said not only is this the first program to protect and standardize meaningful research, but Connecticut is best positioned because its medical marijuana program is among the best regulated in the cuntry. Only licensed pharmacists are allowed to dispense medical cannabis.
Although 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana since 1998, only the University of Mississippi was allowed cultivation for research purposes under Federal law.
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Rescheduling will make research possible
A group of congress members, including Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, urged President Barack Obama earlier this year to reschedule marijuana. If it is no longer classified as a schedule 1 substance, it could be made available to scientists for research. It was also requested that researchers were allowed to use marijuana grown in other states, and not only from the University of Mississippi.
Murphy said more research is greatly needed, and it will take a joint effort on the part of states and federal government to get researchers interested in finding answers to valid questions, and establish the efficacy of medical marijuana.
Some research was prompted by state programs across the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are more or less 10 states with laws allowing some sort of marijuana research. Some of these studies are funded by taxes and licensing fees, but unfortunately, a few universities prohibit research being conducted for fear of losing federal financial support.
State funding for cannabis research
In Colorado, 10 state-funded trials are underway. These include studies looking into medical marijuana as a means of helping adolescents with IBS, and veterans suffering PTSD.
Tom Schultz, president of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions in Portland, has a license to grow, and encourages lawmakers to pass legislation on state based research. His company has plans to fund studies at Yale University and other institutions to look into what types of cancer patients can benefit from cannabis drugs and in order to determine the ideal dosage. He plans on submitting a proposal by the end of the year.
Schultz says there are a lot of fundamental unanswered questions concerning dosage protocol, and the first state to deliver the studies will have a huge advantage when it comes to expanding its biotech industry.
Cannabis research is the obvious starting point for medicinal marijuana to gain credibility. Doctors will be more willing to prescribe a medicine if they have specified dosages and studies to prove efficacy. This is the information everyone is waiting for. Will Connecticut be the state to come up with the answers?