EDITORIAL: Weeding out truth about marijuana
Research on cannabis is difficult to conduct according to new report
One of the growing discussions of this era is the legalization and use of marijuana. And with the 2016 presidential election still visible in America’s rear-view mirror, it is not difficult for one to see how vital the discussion of cannabis use in the United States is to voters, candidates and their governmental allies. While the debate over whether the legalization of marijuana is one that can be disputed time and time again, one would think that the mere research of cannabis would be something that would be implemented, if not encouraged, amongst these debates. But after the release of a new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, many are beginning to realize that there may be more on the table to discuss.
This academic report, released just last week, listed the inconveniences and barriers that the scientific community faces while attempting to further research cannabis and its uses. Amongst these obstacles are the federal, local and state agencies approvals that are required before any research is done. And even after this research may be approved, researchers only have access to cannabis samples from one lab in the nation, located at the University of Mississippi. And even then, the cannabis samples available for research are processed, grown and sold solely by the federal government.
If its scarcity was not problematic enough, marijuana's labeling as a Schedule I drug makes it extremely difficult for researchers to even open the discussion of studying it. A Schedule I drug is considered a substance that provides no evidence for potential medical use while being considered a strong candidate for probable abuse. But the report itself indicates that the side effects that are related to other Schedule I drugs, such as heroin and ecstasy, are far more dangerous than those of marijuana. The report revealed that marijuana use could, in fact, lead to more car accidents. It even indicated weight gain as a side effect of using marijuana if pregnant. These things, although seeming to dismiss the benefits of marijuana use and legalization, are still important aspects of the drug that could not have been brought to light without the proper research. Just as negative effects were revealed, popular myths surrounding the drug were debunked and brought into question as well. The report showed that marijuana is not, in fact, linked to lung or neck cancer. But amongst this research, it was still decided that there was not enough evidence to deem marijuana as a “gateway” drug as its Schedule I labeling suggests. Does this mean that it is entirely safe? No. Rather, it solidifies the justification for the furthering of research on marijuana.
There have been 28 states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana and eight other states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. With the inauguration of a new president only days away, there is no doubt that there will be new policies and viewpoints on marijuana and the legalization of its use for either purpose. With so much of the nation deeply engaged in the conversation of the implementation of cannabis, it only makes sense for our nation’s scientists and researchers to take a closer look at the substance that is causing so much debate. Whether you are for the legalization of the use of marijuana (either medical or recreational) or against it, it would be nonsensical to deny the testing of a drug that you have such strong views on.
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