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Obama Administration Eases Marijuana Research Requirements

Scientists wishing to study marijuana’s health effects may now forgo a review by Public Health Services.

Jun 29, 2015
Amanda B. Keener

MARK, FLICKR

Studying the health effects of marijuana just got a little easier. In a statement released last week (June 23), The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the elimination of one of four regulatory hurdles that researchers must clear in order to study medical applications for the drug.

“The president has often said that drug policy should be dictated by unimpeded science instead of ideology, and it’s great to see the Obama administration finally starting to take some real action to back that up,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group, Marijuana Majority told the Washington Post.

According to the Washington Post, HHS determined that the regulatory step, which entailed a review by Public Health Services (PHS) was redundant with another required review by the Food and Drug Administration. Drug Policy News reports that the Clinton administration installed the PHS review to keep the growing field of marijuana research under strict controls.

“I think it's a sensible change; but people are being delusional if they think this will result in a flood of research on the drug,” Kevin Sabet of the anti-legalization group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told the Washington Post.

Marijuana researchers still face other unique barriers, such as the requirement to obtain all marijuana plants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“This is progress, but the White House should also end the NIDA’s unique monopoly on marijuana production, and allow private entities to grow marijuana, thus facilitating even more important research,” Bill Piper, the Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs, told Drug Policy News.

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