White House lifts restrictions on cannabis research

By Oscar Pascual |

The Obama administration is making marijuana research one step easier to attain.

The White House announced on Monday the removal of the Public Health Service (PHS) review requirement needed to gain federal approval for marijuana research, reports the Huffington Post.

The PHS review has been called to be lifted by bipartisan lawmakers as well as both legalization and prohibition advocates. The review is nearly identical to the one performed by the Food and Drug Administration, and isn’t even a requirement to research more life-threatening drugs such as cocaine or heroin.

“The Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine,” said Drug czar spokesman Mario Moreno Zepeda. “Eliminating the Public Health Service review should help facilitate additional research to advance our understanding of both the adverse effects and potential therapeutic uses for marijuana or its components.”

Even noted Drug Warrior Kevin Sabet, who is staunchly against marijuana legalization, believes that more cannabis research must be conducted.

“I think it’s a sensible change; but people are being delusional if they think this will result in a flood of research on the drug,” said Sabet of anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, in an interview with the Washington Post. “But it’s a step in the right direction as the development of a non-smoked cannabis medication goes forward.”

Despite the newly lifted restriction, legalization advocates say that it’s just a small step towards what really must be done: descheduling marijuana.

“The next step should be moving marijuana out of Schedule I to a more appropriate category, which the administration can do without any further Congressional action,” said Tom Angell of legalization group the Marijuana Majority, in a statement. “Given what the president and surgeon general have already said publicly about marijuana’s relative harms and medical uses, it’s completely inappropriate for it to remain in a schedule that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value.”

Photo credit: Global Panorama