Federal Drug Agency Tells Congress About Marijuana Research Restrictions

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With more researchers looking into the potential benefits of cannabis products, there are unfortunately some walls preventing some groups from continuing. The most commonly known restriction that these research groups have to deal with has to do with banking. This is because there are some organizations that refuse to deal with these groups. For example, Bank of America most recently refused to continue the account of a major researcher of cannabis and psychedelics. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has now gone to Congress. This is done in order to point out the other present marijuana research restrictions.

Cause

The national institute reported that the cause for these restrictions is the Schedule I status of cannabis. Specifically, they discuss that the “administratively complex” process scientists need to follow in order to receive federal authorization from the DEA creates additional barriers. 

Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that since the researchers can’t study the actual cannabinoid products that customers can purchase at dispensaries, it further restricts the potential research. Additionally, the researchers are typically limited to using cannabis grown by the University of Mississippi. This is one of the few federally-authorized marijuana manufacturers. The recently added Scottsdale Research Institute is another manufacturer.

Results

Because of the Schedule I status, even with proper registration, the ongoing research can experience unexpected delays. In fact, some have reported that new registrations can take more than a year with modifying an existing one also being time consuming. Also, the differing interpretations between the different organizations involved in the registration can further impede the registration. Also, the DEA requires everyone registers their involvement in the research. 

Researchers, who have to change the course of study, even if it’s something so minor as adjusting the used quantity, have to re-register with DEA. This results in further delays. To further add barriers, the DEA can require researchers to obtain multiple registrations for every physical site involved in the research. This is the case even if it is all on the same campus. Aspects of the studies could require special registration, which can stall the research.

Solutions

The DEA has stated that they would be taking steps towards approving more federally authorized research-based marijuana producers. It is also working to increase the production of research-grade Schedule I drugs for 2022. However, the NIDA has stated that even if the DEA keeps this promise, it would not help with improving the understanding of products the customers will not be using.

Regardless of these marijuana research restrictions, activists hope that this will lead to the further improvements of accessibility for researchers.

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