Cannabis research stalled by federal inaction – Chemical & Engineering News

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Clinical researchers in the US are unable to study the safety and efficacy of cannabis products purchased from legal, state-authorized dispensaries because cannabis is illegal under federal law.

Researchers in the US who want to investigate the medical benefits and risks of cannabis are frustrated. They would like to evaluate the wide array of cannabis products sold in states where cannabis is legal, but federal law prohibits them from doing so because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level.

Most studies on the therapeutic effects of cannabis have relied on synthetic formulations of specific chemicals made by cannabis plants, such as the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the psychoactive component of cannabis—and cannabidiol (CBD). A few researchers have looked at the efficacy of whole cannabis plants to treat chronic pain, but no clinical studies have been conducted on cannabis products purchased from state-authorized dispensaries. US researchers can only study the effects of cannabis using plant material grown by the University of Mississippi under contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

In March, the US Drug Enforcement Administration released a new rule intended to allow more organizations to grow more varieties of cannabis, but the cannabis research community says the proposal is still too restrictive. Additionally, cannabis researchers face the need to get
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