MARYLAND: Residents of 23 US states can buy medical marijuana to treat everything from cancer pain to anxiety, but US scientists must wade through onerous paperwork to score the drug for study. Their sole dealer is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a contract with the University of Mississippi in Oxford to produce marijuana for research purposes.
The agency has long faced complaints that its marijuana is too weak to represent what is sold on the street, and contains low levels of the non-psychedelic chemicals that show therapeutic promise for conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain. Now, with legal marijuana increasingly available to the US public, NIDA is quietly changing course — working to expand the amount and variety of the drug available for study.
“We want to be able to evaluate the claims that marijuana is therapeutically beneficial” and to explore treatments for addiction, says Nora Volkow, director of NIDA in Rockville, Maryland.