It is well established that medical cannabis has been a successful treatment in the battle against cancer and dozens of other health conditions and diseases. To date, due to severe restrictions against studying it, we have touched only the surface of what medical cannabis can do. We know of its benefits for the treatment of arthritis, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, etc. With further research, medical cannabis may be discovered to be the “Wonder Drug of the 21st Century”. So why has the US government been so slow concerning research in the use of this drug…plant?
The federal government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance makes it very difficult for those in the medical field to conduct research, and without the research the government does not see the need for reclassification. Reclassification would allow more and faster research, resulting in saved lives.
Some Senators Try to Make a Difference
The time is now; last month, eight senators demanded that the government speed up marijuana research. Led by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) these senators sent queries to several federal agencies concerning a failure to explain their inaction in marijuana research.
This was a follow-up to last summer’s Senate action in which Elizabeth Warren and others called for the government to quit stalling in marijuana research. The eight senators demanded action on several fronts:
- The supply of marijuana for research purposes
- Assessment of marijuana rescheduling
- Inter-agency coordination and research applications
- Surveillance and epidemiological studies
- Coordination with states and inter-agency cooperation
Barriers to Progress: DEA Chief – Chuck Rosenberg
In November of last year, DEA acting chief, Chuck Rosenberg, offended many people with his remarks during a Q & A session with the media in which he claimed that the thought of cannabis/marijuana as medicine was “a joke.” This provoked a massive response from medical cannabis patients and others, and resulted in a petition being started by Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority, calling for the firing of Mr. Rosenberg by President Barack Obama. This petition currently has over 150,000 signatures.
Subsequently, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), in a speech on the House floor, stated that “Rosenberg is clearly not the right fit for the DEA in this administration” and went on to say “Rosenberg’s claim that more research is necessary is true, but it reeks of hypocrisy because the DEA under his leadership has made badly needed cannabis research difficult, often impossible” since the DEA considers marijuana a Schedule I substance. And according to the federal classification, these substances have no accepted medical use.
Recent Easing of Restrictions – But For Now, Only For Cannabidiol (CBD)
In late December last year, the DEA quietly announced they were easing some of the regulatory requirements established by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) for FDA-approved clinical trials of CBD, one of five major cannabinoids found in medical cannabis. Up to this point, if researchers were conducting CBD-based clinical trials, they needed to first be cleared through the FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) application – which grants them an exemption from the FDA legal requirements prohibiting the drug to be transported or distributed across state lines. Without an IND, researchers would be severely hindered in working with other clinical investigators in different states. If granted the IND, researchers then would need to obtain a DEA research registration. Prior to now, this registration permitted researchers to possess only pre-approved amounts of CBD for their specific research purposes. If the clinical research changed or expanded, requiring additional amounts of CBD, the result was a lengthy and protracted process to get a modification to their DEA research registration. This obviously caused interruptions and delays to the clinical trial in process. Now, a previously registered CBD researcher can receive a waiver, effectively removing that step from the approval process.
This is good news, right? Yes, and it’s very encouraging to see the DEA lifting those restrictions. However – we feel that more change is still needed to allow research of the whole plant and the entire spectrum of medical benefits that many cannabinoids found in cannabis provide. Marijuana should be allowed to be fully tested, just like other drugs in this country are, and until it is removed from the CSA list, the narrow amount of research allowed will only reveal a small percentage of its medicinal benefits.
United Patients Group Responds
The goal of United Patients Group is to provide unparalleled access to research, information, and education regarding medical cannabis. With the recent formation of our non-profit, the support of research is at the very core of those goals. The fight for increased research is gravely hindered by misinformed people in power, such as Mr. Rosenberg. Upon hearing his fractious and illogical comments, our co-founder, Corinne Malanca, felt compelled to respond directly to Rosenberg. Here is her letter (never before publicly published):
Dear Mr. Rosenberg,
I’m writing this letter because I was you five years ago. As a matter of fact, I would bet that I was more staunch than you. The arguments in my house revolving around cannabis use were common. I have two very smart children who relentlessly tried to school me on the benefits of this plant.
A bit about me: I am more conservative than most. I don’t use any drugs, not even in high school and college. I was always the designated driver and never tasted alcohol until I was 33 and still have an aversion to all of it. I ‘hated’ the smell of marijuana and have always rolled my eyes when people would talk about their “medicine.”
Truth be told, I would STILL be this person today had I not been thrown into this by way of my father’s journey with lung cancer and a brain tumor on his brain stem. I was forced to do my research out of fear of losing my father as he was given two weeks to live. Had my father not gotten sick, I would STILL be that annoyed mother refusing to look at any research. Why would I want to spend ANY of my time and energy researching such a disgusting plant?
What I have humbly learned is that there IS science behind this treatment and plenty of it. I have been humbled over and over again. We treated my father with the minutest amount of cannabis oil. We only gave this oil to him for palliative care reasons. We had learned that 40% of cancer patients pass of complications of malnutrition, which can ultimately be painful, in turn, hospice offers morphine. My father did not want to be on morphine due to the side effects like constipation and that “high” feeling. That’s when he decided to try the cannabis and coconut oil capsules. Low and behold, my dad was out of bed and emailing friends on his computer within 24 hours. A week later, he put his oxygen tank in the closet. All we thought was, “great, this is just what we had hoped for – now he can pass peacefully and comfortably.”
Dad continued to feel better and better. Hospice didn’t quite know what to do with him and he never wanted to be scanned again since he knew he was terminal. Nine months into his coconut oil and cannabis infused capsule along with cannabis oil treatment at night, dad went behind our backs and got scanned. “NO EVIDENCE OF RECURRENT DISEASE,” read the physicians report! Since then he has had 6 scans in total, all with the same results. Here is his story.
So today, I have been “schooled.” Not by my children, but by my own research. I was forced to read the science. It was a humbling experience but I assure you, if you do the same, YOU may save someone’s life. My husband and I have made this our mission to present the scientific education to medical institutions, physicians, nurses, local and foreign governments and the public. We are United Patients Group, “Be Informed. Be Well.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
Please join us at this year’s United Patients Group medical cannabis conference –
Medical Cannabis: The Science. The Truth.
May 21st and 22nd – Dominican University