DEA Eases Restrictions on CBD Research to Benefit Big Pharma

By Mike Adams for High Times · Wed Dec 30, 2015

There was speculation last week that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration might be on the verge of downgrading the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant. Unfortunately, the end result proved the implications behind the rumors were somewhat overstated, as the agency simply moved to ease the restrictions surrounding one of the herb’s most infamous non-intoxicating compounds in an effort to abridge the research process for Big Pharma.

Last Wednesday, Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority revealed that he had obtained a letter from Congressman Earl Blumenauer that suggested the Food and Drug Administration and DEA were finally working together to reclassify marijuana under federal law. Although the details were vague, the document, which was sent to Blumenauer by the Justice Department, clearly states that the “DEA is currently reviewing two petitions to reschedule marijuana in accordance with the [Controlled Substances Act].”

The news of this development generated a great deal of excitement in marijuana advocates across the nation. The consensus was that regardless of how small the reform, if the federal government did finally decide to change the Schedule I status of the cannabis plant, it would be a big step in the right direction. An article published in SF Weekly suggested, “The drug is in a good position in Schedule I” because “there’s nowhere to go but down.”

Marijuana’s current Schedule I classification ranks it as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, crippling the plant from becoming recognized at the national level as effective medicine for a multitude of conditions. Therefore, it is true that a simple downgrade to a Schedule II, which would classify the herb as having some medicinal value, would open up countless opportunities for the cannabis plant to flourish in the medical sector.

However, marijuana advocates did not stop to consider that the proposed rescheduling recently put forth by the federal government was only a stepping-stone to benefit the reptiles of the pharmaceutical industry.

It was later revealed in a press release that the DEA had decided to merely ease the regulatory requirements of Controlled Substances Act for researchers conducting FDA-approved clinical trials on the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant known as cannabidiol or CBD. Essentially, the change will allow researchers who have already been granted approval to conduct clinical trials for CBD treatments, like GW Pharmaceuticals, to “modify their protocol and continue their research seamlessly” rather than delay studies while waiting for requests for additional marijuana to be approved.

To be perfectly clear – the DEA has not in any way rescheduled marijuana. The substance, even the CBD compound, remains a Schedule I dangerous drug in the eyes of the federal government. However, according to Uncle Sam’s leading drug enforcers, “because CBD contains less than 1 percent THC and has shown some potential medicinal value,” it is safe to loosen some of the restrictions for those involved in its research.

While most marijuana advocates have attempted to view this change in a positive light, the enthusiasm is not overboard.

Mike Liszewski with Americans for Safe Access told U.S. News that the DEA’s latest reform, while welcomed, “is barely moving the issue forward” and that facilitating research into a single cannabinoid “denies patients the benefits of research into the full range of cannabinoids that whole plant cannabis offer naturally.”

Of course, Big Pharma has fully embraced the DEA’s choice to simplify CBD research for those with the financial resources to get to the point of FDA approval. Seth Yakatan, CEO of Kalytera, a developer of synthetic CBD medications, recently told Forbes that the government’s decision “is certainly a step in the right direction towards the development and proof of CBD as an empirically efficacious compound.”

At the moment, it remains unclear whether the DEA’s latest reform is the singular result of the FDA’s recommendations for rescheduling or if there are other changes on the horizon for 2016. Yet, one thing is certain, any coming reforms will likely only apply to the pharmaceutical market and not go deep enough to have any impact on medical marijuana, as we know it.


3 thoughts on “DEA Eases Restrictions on CBD Research to Benefit Big Pharma

    • Politics , racism , and greed have become the bedrock foundation of this once great nation . Thanks Tricky Dick for destroying the nation with your war on the ni99ers and Jews protesting “your” war in Vietnam .


  1. Legal, policy changes can lead to shifts in use of medical marijuana
    Use increased in states with dispensaries after 2009 federal policy change; changes in state laws saw varying responses
    January 20, 2016
    Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
    Policy changes since 2001 had varying effects on the number of people consuming medical marijuana.

    A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysis of registered medical marijuana users found that a hodgepodge of law and policy changes since 2001 had varying effects on the number of people consuming what in many states remains an otherwise illegal drug for its purported health benefits.

    The findings, published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, suggest a possible “participation elasticity” that could inform future discussions around medical marijuana provisions at both the state and federal level. Medical marijuana is legal to varying degrees in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

    In one finding, researchers determined that medical marijuana use in the states of Colorado, Montana and Michigan rose dramatically in 2009 when the federal government announced that it was making medical marijuana prosecutions a low priority. (In the previous administration, the federal government prosecuted medical marijuana users along with recreational users, since marijuana was — as it is today — against federal law.) By contrast, medical marijuana participation rose little in states the expressly prohibited dispensaries, such as Alaska, Rhode Island and Vermont.

    The federal policy change led to an increase in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, which may have led to an increase in medical marijuana participation. When Colorado and Montana responded with regulations aimed at limiting dispensaries, their numbers fell, as did the number of medical marijuana registrants in these states.

    “At one point, it seemed like there were more dispensaries than Starbucks in some cities,” says study author Brian Fairman, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “Then when the number of dispensaries dropped, so did the number of registrants. Interestingly, after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use, the rates of medical marijuana participation held steady, perhaps because sales taxes are lower for medical marijuana, so it’s more affordable.”

    California became the first state to allow medical marijuana use in 1996. Since then, another 22 states and the District of Columbia approved medical marijuana use. An estimated 2.7 million people use medical marijuana, according to data based on a household survey from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. However, state registries log only about 440,000 medical marijuana users, in part because registration is voluntary in some states, including California, so many patients do not register.

    The rules governing the practice vary from state to state, with some allowing dispensaries and some not and some only allowing cannabis that is ingested (versus smoked or inhaled). Most patients who use medical marijuana do so for pain relief.

    For this analysis, only 13 states, along with the District of Columbia, with medical marijuana registries that had data available over time were included. The states analyzed were Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

    Other findings include:

    Among the eight states that report differences by age, medical marijuana patients under the age 18 make up less than 1 percent of medical marijuana patients. However, since June 2013 the number of minor patients in Colorado has increased significantly, possibly due to parents moving to the state to take advantage of the state’s dispensary market.
    In most states with available data, medical marijuana participants tend to be in their 50s, which is consistent with the “baby boomer” generation that had high rates of marijuana use during the mid-1970s. However, Colorado and Arizona have larger proportions of medical marijuana participants between the ages of 18 and 30.
    In states that report differences in medical marijuana by gender, men are more likely than women to register for medical marijuana, — between 60 and 70 percent are men — but there is evidence that women may be catching up over time.
    The benefits of medical marijuana are little understood, largely because there is scant research, which is complicated by required clearance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

    “Marijuana policy is at a crossroads,” Fairman says. “It’s especially important that policymakers and the public understand what might contribute to trends in medical marijuana use, considering the number of people who seek it for chronic pain and also how it might interplay with recreational use as more states legalize recreational marijuana.”

    “Trends in registered medical marijuana participation across 13 U.S. states and District of Columbia” was written by Brian J. Fairman, PhD.

    The author acknowledges funding support by the National Institutes of Health under the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32DA007292) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

    Journal Reference:

    Brian J. Fairman. Trends in registered medical marijuana participation across 13 US states and District of Columbia. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.11.015


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