Forgive us if you read our stories on this topic from 2017 and 2018, but here it comes again: Another year has passed since the Drug Enforcement Administration said it was open to approving more suppliers of marijuana for scientific research, and another year has passed without an application being approved.
The lag has increasingly frustrated scientists, advocates, and members of Congress from both parties who argue that expanding research into marijuana could lead to new medicines and help identify what health risks use presents.
It’s also created an odd juxtaposition, as the availability of and interest in marijuana surges in other ways. A growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical and, in some cases, recreational purposes. Consumer products made from cannabidiol — a component of marijuana that can also be derived from hemp — are flooding wellness shops, cafes, and beauty stores in ever increasing varieties. And last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the country’s first prescription drug derived from marijuana, a cannabidiol product called Epidiolex that treats types of epilepsy.
Hodgin described the years of waiting as a form of “bureaucratic purgatory.”
Despite what is happening in states, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level and is considered a Schedule I substance, meaning the government views it as having a high potential for abuse and no medical benefits. [Read more at STAT]