Tags Posts tagged with "Marijuana Research"

Marijuana Research

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Dr. Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and at one time a clinical assistant professor at Arizona University (AU), is one of the nation’s leading scientific experts on medical marijuana.

Despite her never serving in the arm forces Sisley wears or at times carries a dog tag stamped with the number “22,” as a constant reminder of how many American vets commit suicide each day—which a majority of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Even though we all realize that is a falsely low number… it is a horrific number,” Sisley said to NewsMax Health, stating that veteran suicides outnumber the national civilian average by a large number.

After leaving AU, where she received her medical degree, Sisley finally was able to gain approval from the government to commence investigative research on cannabis for PTSD.

Currently, she has teamed up with a U.S. veteran, Roberto Pickering, a former infantry Marine who was diagnosed as 100 percent disabled from PTSD in 2004.

Unlike thousands of post-9/11 veterans who have experienced fatal outcomes due to suicide, Pickering—after years of unsuccessful prescription drug use—found another way to deal with his PTSD. He began experimenting with marijuana about 10 years ago and since then has been helping other veterans.

Together, Sisley and Pickering launched the Battlefield Foundation, which provides emotional support, as well as important health and financial solutions, for vets.

Pickering outlined the foundation’s three-pronged approach to help veterans to the LA Weekly.

The first prong is emotional support in the way of sponsorship, popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, for vets suffering from PTSD.

The second prong is medical support—offering non-opiate based relief through cannabis therapy.

This is where Sisley comes in: She and her colleagues at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) received a grant from the government nearly two years ago to study cannabis as a treatment for veterans with PTSD.

Because of the notoriously low-quality weed provided by the government and grown at the University of Mississippi—the only facility approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Pickering and Sisley applied for their own license to grow, but are still waiting.

Under the medical approach, primary goals include funding and raising money for clinical trials.

To that end, the Battlefield Foundation will have a for-profit brand that will invest profits back into the foundation for the research Sisley is overseeing.

Trials are definitely needed, says Sisley, even though veterans already understand that marijuana can help treat their PTSD.

“Some vets will say, ‘I don’t need your study, I already know it helps,’ but we need controlled trials and access to objective information, not just anecdotal reports,” Sisley explained. “That will help the veteran community more than anything.”

In that medical tests can cost millions, initially, veterans with access to medical marijuana under California law can report back to Sisley and her team about how marijuana works for them.

“The medical prong is all about the clinical trials; we’re developing a database that can be published,” said Sisley.

The third prong is economic assistance. The plan is to find veterans jobs in the marijuana industry or place them in positions at Pickering’s own farming facilities.

Pickering’s idea, he told Stars and Stripes, deals with crews of veterans working together for $20 an hour trimming marijuana buds for consumption.

“Vets are coming back from war, and now they have a war here in America to fight,” he said. “The enemy is suicide and an opioid epidemic, and these guys are getting healed in the very industry that’s eliminating that.”

Pickering added that military vets could go a step beyond and start their own profitable companies.

“This is medicine, and I want it to be treated as medicine and given to the masses,” Pickering said. “All I can say is, ‘Look at my life then, look at my life now.’ I want to make [cannabis] an option for all veterans, for all people, not just veterans. Sue [Sisley] is trying to give us that definitive scientific argument.”

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Congress is set to march up the steps of the Capitol later this week in order to introduce legislation aimed at changing the federal government’s old policies on cannabis research. The goal of the bipartisan movement is to make it easier for the scientific community to learn about marijuana and figure out the medical benefits of the drug. Cannabis has already been legalized for medical use in over half the country. A recent report from the Santa Cruze Sentinel reports that many representatives plan on introducing the “Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016” to the House in order to ensure “policy decisions about the role of medical marijuana are based on science and facts instead of rhetoric.”

“As a physician who has conducted (National Institutes of Health) sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community,” said Representative Harris, a lawmaker that’s known for being a serious opponent on legalization, in a statement. “Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research. We need empirical scientific evidence to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits and, if so, how it would be used most effectively. This legislation is crucial to that effort because it removes the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from rigorously studying medical marijuana.”

A Senate version of the bill will be introduced soon by Hawaii, Utah, Delaware, and North Carolina Senators. Although the details of the bill are still unknown, it will target the three issues that have prevented researchers from exploring the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. It is rumored that the bill will force the federal government to allow more growers in order to supply research marijuana.

Although there is a growing number of states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, the federal government has continued to keep the drug at a schedule 1 control substance- which means that it has no known medicinal benefit and is highly addictive.

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In a new report that was released on Tuesday, researchers at the Brookings Institution called on the federal government to eradicate all obstacles stopping medical marijuana research in the United States.

“The federal government is stifling medical research in a rapidly transforming area of public policy that has consequences for public health and public safety,” John Hudak and Grace Wallack write in the report.“Statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area.”

Making it clear that medical marijuana has already been legalized in many states, the report debates that the conflicting federal policies are “interfering with the relationship between doctor and patient.” Even in areas where medical marijuana has been legalized, doctors, patients and researchers find it extremely difficult to find get out of the gray area between state and federal policies.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified marijuana as a drug with “no medically accepted use” and a “high potential for abuse” since 1972. In order to change this classification, there would likely need to be tons of research conducted. Changing into Schedule 2 would give the drug potential to be used medically.

“Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II would signal to the medical community that FDA and NIH are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways,” Hudak and Wallack reported.

In the past, prohibition groups have stated that rescheduling marijuana would be “a symbolic victory for advocates who want to legalize marijuana.” However, academic researchers have argued for a long time that federal restrictions on Schedule 1 drugs, make actual research “difficult and in many cases almost impossible.” According to Hudak and Wallack, federal policies have made a “circular policy trap that hinders scientific research.” The circular trap is that research into medical marijuana is restrained by the Schedule 1 classification and there is a Schedule 1 classification because there isn’t enough research.

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There have been many new studies that have been closing out those against the legalization of cannabis. As these discoveries are published, the federal government comes off as more ridiculous than ever with their claims of marijuana as highly dangerous. The only issue seems to be that most of these findings are not seen by the media, therefore, unknown to most people. Here are three new marijuana studies that have proved to be beneficial for the marijuana reform movement.

Most people believe that those who smoke weed are going to be both unhealthy and unsuccessful. According to researchers from the Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Rutgers University, this is wrong. They have been studying whether or not those who smoked weed differed in various sectors of their life (social, socioeconomic, etc.). Those who did smoke between the ages of 15 and 26 were compared with those who did not. As a result, those who did smoke and those who did not were “not at a heightened risk for maladjustment in adulthood.”

Secondly, according to studies published during the summer by the National Bureau of Economic Research, marijuana leads to lower opioid-related mortality rates. They’ve found that those who have been smoking marijuana through dispensaries do not become addicted to opioids as easily and typically do not overdose in comparison with those who do not smoke weed. Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California ended up concluding that “[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not.”

Finally, legalized marijuana does not just lead to lower usage of opiates, but also alcohol and other drugs. According to data published in Drug and Alcohol Review, “substituting cannabis for one or more of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs was reported by 87 percent of respondents with 80.3 percent reporting substitution for prescription drugs, 51.7 percent for alcohol, and 32.6 percent for illicit substances.” In the end, they finally concluded with ““The finding that cannabis was substituted for alcohol and illicit substances suggests that the medical use of cannabis may play a harm reduction role in the context of use of these substances, and could have implications for substance use treatment approaches requiring abstinence from cannabis in the process of reducing the use of other substances.”

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Cannabis is being legalized at a rapid rate in more areas, however, a new study shows that that does not necessarily equate to a higher popularity of pot among teenagers. While it is true that the disapproval of marijuana among adults has decreased, it does not mean that adolescents feel a change about the drug. Those conducting the study showed that in kids between the ages of 12 and 14 who strongly disapproved of the drug has increased over 5%. In 2002, 74% of kids in this age range expressed strong disapproval while, in 2013, 79% expressed disapproval.

Many were surprised by these results due to the continued legalization of the drug according to Christopher Salas-Wright, a lead researcher on the study published on September 16th in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Wright is also an “assistant professor of social work at the University of Texas at Austin.” In the study researched review data from 70,000 randomly selected people from the age of 12 and up. There were three age groups (ages 12 to 14, ages 15 to 17, ages 18 to 25). This data was accumulated from 2002 to 2013 in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

To add on to looking at how the younger of the two age groups looked at cannabis use, the researchers took a view at the change in the rates of pot over the eleven years. The percentage of teenagers using marijuana has decreased; in 2013, 4.5% of teens reported using pot compared to the 6% in 2002. The older group dropped from 26% to 22% over the same time-period.

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Members of Congress are more times than not eager to admit the fact that they are not scientists. The issue is, they as well do not like listening to scientist and have made an effort to keep them from impacting federal policy on problems from national defense to environmental protection to gun violence. Currently, Americas ignorance is bliss Congress has come to worry about what scientist might have to say about cannabis.
Earlier this month, the House Rules Committee did not pass an amendment to a biomedical research bill that would have allowed the national Institute of Health to conduct research on the advantages and risk of using cannabis for medical reasons investigative studies that federal law currently hampers. The sponsors of the amendment have views that don’t sink up with each other in reference to the value of medicinal cannabis.
Collecting information is definitely a great system to clarify an advance debate. Close to half of all states have some form of legal marijuana program, yet the political discussions involved in this situation have been controlled by stories of rough and terrifying drug abuse.
What has been absent from the debate has been the most crucial element: Scientific proof that cannabis does have the capability to alleviate physical suffering.

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Marijuana activist and opponents have joined forces on a new amendment that would develop a new federal subcategory for the plant and that could make things simpler to work on future research in regards to marijuana medical efficacy.

The amendment to the 21st Century Cures ACT (H.R. 6) A bill that is directed at progressing with the discovery and development of new medicines is “designed to facilitate credible research on the medical efficacy” of cannabis, and would influence the National Institute of Health and the DEA to work as a unit on marijuana research. The measure is expected to be discussed in the House of Representatives later this week.
“Given the widespread use of medical marijuana, it is imperative that doctors better understand how it can be used to treat different people and conditions, as well as the risks involved,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of the amendment’s sponsors, gave details to The Huffington Post. “Our amendment shows members of Congress with widely varying views on marijuana policy are united in support of building a robust body of scientific information on medical marijuana.”

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