Tags Posts tagged with "Research Program"

Research Program

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Pennsylvania growers are being encouraged to share in a newly developed pilot research program that will add toward a better knowledge of what could be a new cash crop in the state. Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding stated, “Hemp has a long history here in Pennsylvania, and we believe it holds a promising future. If we want to realize this crop’s full potential, though, we need the benefit of sound research.”

Industrial hemp was grown commercially in the United States until after World War II. Governments began to outlaw its cultivation in the mid-20th century because of its association with marijuana. Pennsylvania joins states like Kentucky and New York where officials and growers are keeping their focus on the seemingly profitable future of hemp growth. The Department of Agriculture will award $1,000 to successful hemp research program permit recipients to balance out the costs of the project under the cost-share program.

Grain farmer Ammon Carlyle is intrigued by the program. He stated, “I looked up ‘hemp’ online and learned that early in the country’s history it was widely grown and was a way that farmers made money. I plan to make an application to join the project.” Carlyle definitely has the land to hold the project.

Researchers who finish a hemp research project are qualified to apply, as long as the project has been approved by the Department of Agriculture. Under the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program guidelines, a maximum of thirty projects of five acres each will be selected for the 2017 growing season. The department will select the projects based on a complete program application. The department will issue a research permit to an institution of higher education or to a person contracted to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The pilot research program follows the state and federal laws that allow industrial hemp to be grown in states where allowed.

The cut off date for Pennsylvania growers to apply for a 2017 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program was January 6. Applicants who are approved for research projects will be notified by February 17.

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Many activists, investigative researchers, and supporters let out a collective cry when the Drug Enforcement Administration upheld a 46-year-old policy of classifying marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic with no medicinal properties. Federal officials did something completely unforeseen and loosened restrictions on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes.

“It may spur the development of different plants, which may, for example, have more CBD than THC or the other way around,” stated Dr. Igor Grant, director of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

The difference between CBD, cannabidiol and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the answer to how investigative researchers and the government study, prescribe and ultimately classify marijuana.

As of now, THC is licensed by the FDA as a drug called Marinol or Dronabinol and is used to suppress nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, or to increase appetite and weight gain in people with AIDS. It also reportedly is helpful in the treatment of certain kinds of neuropathic pain, for example alleviating muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

“The important thing will do is improve the availability of cannabis and hopefully the type of cannabis available for research so we can answer more of these questions,” Grant says.

The cumbersome process of obtaining marijuana for research purposes requires first being approved by the FDA and then by the DEA. It’s a step up from how things were formerly done when the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research was founded back in 2000.

At the time, UCSD was the only researcher in the department and the university largely graveled the way for more streamlined protocols to obtaining and examining marijuana.

Grant’s center has been at the vanguard of cannabis research from the start and researchers there remain certain that marijuana’s medicinal future could be bright if only the federal government would continue to ease up on regulations.

“I’m really hoping that with some of these gradual changes, both at the federal level and more rapid changes at the state level, research on medical cannabis will accelerate,” Grant stated.

“What we really need is much larger-scale studies and, in particular, we need studies that are longer going – something that works for a few weeks or a month might not be safe for a year or two.” Next month, Grant’s team will kick off two new studies.

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