Pot Research Stalled Even As Legalization Gains Momentum

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Speaking by phone, Anthony Fabrizio was on a roll about his career in cannabis research when he suddenly fell silent. You could hear the San Francisco–based research director stammering, then grunting. Silence again.

Fabrizio returned to the conversation more than 10 seconds later. He chose his next words gingerly, like someone trying to find a light switch in a dark room, placing one hand in front of the other.

“I … just had a seizure,” he said. The research director for Terra Tech Corp., a public company based in Irvine, California, suffers absence seizures (sometimes called petit mal seizures) due to epilepsy. He credits smoking marijuana with reducing the number of seizures from about 20 a week to one every few months. Fabrizio, 27, a biochemist, has since become an evangelist for medical marijuana, which is legally available in 23 states and the nation’s capital, with legislation underway in other states.

Despite the growing momentum for pot legalization, marijuana remains one of the most difficult substances to study in the United States.

Laws Make Studying Marijuana Difficult

DELAWARE: The only marijuana available for research in the U.S. is locked down by federal regulators who are more focused on studies to keep people off the drug than helping researchers learn how it might be beneficial.

Marijuana is a trend that “will peak like tobacco then people will see their error,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which serves as the gatekeeper for U.S. marijuana research through its oversight of a pot farm that grows the only plants that can be used in clinical trials.

Meanwhile, marijuana advocates say NIDA’s control over research has made almost impossible their ability to test the drug against ailments such as pain, cancer-related nausea and epilepsy.

The federal researchers aren’t “set up to study potential medical benefits, so it’s inappropriate for NIDA to have a monopoly on supply,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based group that lobbies to change marijuana laws.

Cannabis Proves Effective In Treating Crohn’s Disease According To New Study

TEXAS:  A new clinical study published in the journal Pharmacology and by the National Institute of Health has found that cannabis is effective in treating Crohn’s disease, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBDs such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s affect over a million people in the United States. Many IBD victims suffer from pain, diarrhea and poor ability to digest food, and up to half of IBD cases are so severe that they ultimately require surgery to remove the affected bowel segment. [Read more…]