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 investigatorsâ€™ ability to conduct clinical studies of cannabis, in particular those protocols designed to evaluate the plantâ€™s therapeutic potential. During recent testimony on Capitol Hill, Nora Volkow â€“ the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) â€“ admitted this fact publicly to members of Congress.
Rep. Connolly: â€œRight now, NIDA has a monopoly on the production of marijuana to be used for FDA-approved research and medical purposes and thatâ€™s been the case since 1974. Is that correct?â€
Nora Volkow: â€œThat is my understanding.â€
Rep. Connolly: â€œIs there any other schedule I drug used for research purposes thatâ€™s available only from one government source?â€
Nora Volkow: â€œI donâ€™t think there is.â€
Rep. Connolly: â€œSo, again, (this is) unique to marijuana. You [NIDA] have exclusive control for research purposes unlike any substance.â€
Nora Volkow: â€œCorrect, in the United States.â€
Rep. Connolly: â€œWhat is the rationale for that?â€
Nora Volkow: [long pause] â€œI guess the rationale … is that you want to be able to have control over the material that youâ€™re providing for research.â€
Rep. Connolly: â€œWhy wouldnâ€™t that be true about cocaine?â€
Nora Volkow: â€œCocaine is a drug that is regulated differently. â€¦ The production of marijuana is based on plants.â€
Rep. Connolly: â€œDEA 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?â€
Nora Volkow: â€œFor research purposes, yes.â€
It’s a shame that it’s taken 40 years for this kind of questioning to take place in Congress.