The U.S. government inched closer to recognizing marijuana as medicine earlier this month when a federal research organization changed its tune on cannabis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse – which controls cannabis research in America – offered a more progressive stance on medical marijuana in a recent update to its webpage.
The title of the NIDA website’s section on medical marijuana has been changed from ‘Is Marijuana Medicine?’ to ‘Marijuana as Medicine,’ a subtle revision that essentially recognizes the medical value – or at least the medicinal potential of cannabis. The story was first reported by San Francisco-based journalist Chris Roberts.
The revamped site also explains why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t officially recognized marijuana as medicine yet. “So far, researchers haven’t conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it’s meant to treat,” according to the site.
The small change in the revised webpage is a big deal because the federal government has lagged behind the states on the issue of cannabis reform for decades. As of today, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized medical marijuana. But cannabis consumption – for medical or recreational purposes – remains federally illegal. And members of the Trump administration like Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to uphold the status quo on cannabis prohibition.
Right now, the federal government’s Controlled Substances Act defines cannabis as a substance that is as dangerous and addictive as heroin. So seeing NIDA recognize marijuana’s potential as medicine is a big deal. If nothing else, it brings the feds closer to being on the same page as the States when it comes to cannabis. But the federal government doesn’t look ready to close the book on cannabis prohibition just yet.
Maybe the new cannabis study promoted by medical marijuana patient and advocate Sir Patrick Stewart will change minds in Congress.
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