In their reply to a letter written by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) wrote that researchers should be allowed to access marijuana from licensed dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal instead of being compelled to rely on the single source licensed by the federal government.
In that same letter, the federal agencies discussed how the prohibition of marijuana at the federal level was limiting marijuana research. These limitations include the quality and diversity of research-grade marijuana.
Studies have revealed that the marijuana grown at the only federally licensed facility at the University of Mississippi is closer to industrial hemp than to the marijuana which is readily available in states which have legalized the substance.
The federal agencies say that this discrepancy creates gaps in the way the government and the scientific community understand marijuana products.
The letter from NIH and the FDA comes in response to a letter that was written by Schatz in March asking the agencies about the research agenda they had, their take on what the federal prohibition of marijuana was having on easing marijuana research, and what they thought should be done to make the validity and quality of marijuana research better.
Schatz’s letter was written when Dr. Scott Gottlieb was still the commissioner of the FDA, but the reply had the signature of Norman Sharpless since Gottlieb was no longer at the agency.
The heads of the two federal health agencies discussed at length what their organizations had done and was continuing to do in support of cannabis research, then they proceeded to state that they agree with Schatz that more research should be done. Some of the ongoing clinical studies that they cited included research into how the marijuana laws of states contribute to or influence the use of opioids within those jurisdictions.
NIH and the FDA then pointed out that the federal restrictions, such as having only one licensed supplier of research-grade cannabis, were making it hard for the necessary cannabis research to be done.
The agencies were of the view that any entity with a Schedule 1 license should be free to access marijuana from the licensed dispensaries and retail outlets in states where marijuana is legal so that the research that they conduct is more reflective of the products that consumers use today.
These statements about allowing researchers to access marijuana from licensed dispensaries made all the more sense given that the head of the Mississippi University farm currently supplying all the marijuana used for research is reported to have said that marijuana with an 8 percent THC potency was strong enough and he didn’t see why people needed anything stronger. It was as though he didn’t know that the marijuana on the market can have as much as 25 percent THC!
Analysts think industry participants like HTC Extraction Systems (TSX.V: HTC) and IONIC Brands Corp. (CSE: IONC) (OTC: IONKF) must be wishing that the NIH and the FDA convert their words into actions so that some of the headaches faced by the marijuana industry can come to an end.
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