Now, will they do anything about it?
Those who work in marijuana policy reform have long been aware that federal regulations and agencies significantly impede investigators’ ability to conduct clinical studies of cannabis, in particular those protocols designed to evaluate the plant’s therapeutic potential. During recent testimony on Capitol Hill, Nora Volkow – the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – admitted this fact publicly to members of Congress.
Rep. Connolly: “Right now, NIDA has a monopoly on the production of marijuana to be used for FDA-approved research and medical purposes and that’s been the case since 1974. Is that correct?”
Nora Volkow: “That is my understanding.”
Rep. Connolly: “Is there any other schedule I drug used for research purposes that’s available only from one government source?”
Nora Volkow: “I don’t think there is.”
Rep. Connolly: “So, again, (this is) unique to marijuana. You [NIDA] have exclusive control for research purposes unlike any substance.”
Nora Volkow: “Correct, in the United States.”
Rep. Connolly: “What is the rationale for that?”
Nora Volkow: [long pause] “I guess the rationale … is that you want to be able to have control over the material that you’re providing for research.”
Rep. Connolly: “Why wouldn’t that be true about cocaine?”
Nora Volkow: “Cocaine is a drug that is regulated differently. … The production of marijuana is based on plants.”
Rep. Connolly: “DEA has licensed privately funded manufacturers to produce methamphetamines, LSD, MDMA, heroin, cocaine, and a host of other controlled substances for research purposes. Is that not correct?”
Nora Volkow: “For research purposes, yes.”
It’s a shame that it’s taken 40 years for this kind of questioning to take place in Congress.