Drug regulators said it would never happen, but now they’re changing their tune!
Marijuana advocates rejoiced as The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, for the first time, approved smoking marijuana as legitimate medical research. The DEA authorized a clinical trial of smoked marijuana for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in American military veterans. “While other trials have studied the medical benefits of marijuana and cannabis extracts like cannabidiol, this is the first time regulators have allowed testing of the marijuana plant itself for the purpose of developing it into a legal medical drug.” The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization researching legal uses for marijuana and other mind-altering drugs, is conducting the trial which is funded by a $2.2 million grant from Colorado’s state health department. MAPS had worked for about 5 years trying to get an ok from the government regulators to use cannabis in the trial. It got the ok from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and from the U.S. Public Health Service in 2014 but still had to wait for the DEA to approve the motion in order to move forward. The DEA’s decision marks a huge step in the agency’s policy which has long resisted the legalization of marijuana for medical OR recreational purposes, and has also denied the potential medical benefit of the plant. Just this past November, Chuck Rosenberg, head of the DEA, dismissed the concept of medical marijuana as “a joke,” according to CBS News. “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it’s not,” he said. “If you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana—which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana—it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.” However earlier this month the DEA announced that it’s considering whether to reclassify marijuana from its current category, Schedule I, the same one as heroin and LSD, into a lower one alongside “less dangerous” drugs. The DEA has not rejected any research studies involving marijuana products that met FDA standards, the agency’s spokesperson stated as of right now. So far, 24 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, but the DEA still considers the herb illegal on a federal level. Hopefully with time, this too changes!