Medical marijuana research may enter a new era
Scientists are looking forward to the possible reclassification of cannabis compounds by the DEA according to the Scientific American. To understand why this will move their research forward, one need only look to the studies conducted by neuroscientist Chuanhai Cao, who uses transgenic mice to study the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s disease – research that could later translate into a treatment for human patients.
Because of severe regulation and holdups caused by DEA reporting requirements, dead mice have been a problem for Cao. His mice have to be a specific age before he can perform tests on them, and a recent 3-month holdup caused by a DEA requirement, meant that many of his mice died while he was awaiting approval to go ahead with his research. As a result, he didn’t have sufficient numbers of mice to obtain a useful result once approval finally came through.
However, if the DEA goes ahead with the reclassification of cannabis from schedule 1 to schedule 2 or even 3, research approval and controls will be much easier to navigate, speeding the research process and producing much faster results. Currently, cannabis is classified as a schedule one drug, and even CBD, a cannabis compound with absolutely no psychoactive or addictive properties falls into that category. This means that cannabis compounds are considered of no valid medical use and potentially dangerous – as dangerous as heroin. Even codeine, a highly addictive painkiller, enjoys schedule 3 status.
Researcher Sachin Patel, a psychiatry professor, will also welcome the rescheduling of cannabis. He is currently studying the effects of cannabis compounds on PTSD, stress and ‘mental resiliency’ and says that even rescheduling cannabis to schedule 2 will make his work much easier.
Regardless of federal regulations, many US states have been going their own way, with 23 of them allowing the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of pain, nausea, glaucoma and other conditions. But researchers want to investigate the efficacy of cannabis in treating much more life threatening ailments including cancer. Should the DEA reschedule cannabis, they will be able to obtain approval for their research much more easily and progress much faster.
The impact of the proposed rescheduling of cannabis is causing great excitement within the research community, with some hailing a possible rescheduling as heralding a “new era” in medical marijuana research. Despite current constraints on Cannabis research, there are already no less than 23,000 published scientific papers dealing with its potential medical uses online.
Regretfully, most of these show ‘promising’ results but find that further research is needed. Double blind clinical studies in humans are indicated for many cannabis applications which have been through in vitro (test tube) and/or in vivo (animal) testing. Where human clinical trials have been initiated, larger samples of affected populations are required for significant results to be obtained. The schedule 1 status of cannabis has hampered progress.
Fast tracking the research process through rescheduling will prove what cannabis is good for and what it isn’t good for thereby quashing rumors that give false hope, and providing a scientific protocol for applications in which cannabis is indeed found to be effective. Should the DEA reschedule cannabis?