In a huge step forward for scientific research, the Obama Administration has lifted longstanding restrictions on researching the potential benefits of medical marijuana, listening to appeals from a bipartisan group of lawmaker to enable scientists to take a deeper look into the drug.
Previously, studies would have to pass review by the Public Health Service, an onerous burden that often scuttled proposed projects before they took off. Since President Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I class-drug, alongside heroin and LSD, as having high potential for abuse and no medical benefit. Since then, marijuana has been found to have many medical uses, from treating seizures and eye disorders like glaucoma, possible cancer-repressing chemicals, slowing progress of Alzheimer’s disease, use in treating anxiety, among others.
The White House’s “drug czar” remarked that “the Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine. Eliminating the Public Health Service review should help facilitate additional research to advance our understanding of both the adverse effects and potential therapeutic uses for marijuana or its components.”
The lifting of the review will open the doors for a flood of new research, which is a huge benefit no matter what- we should fully understand the nuances and intricacies of the chemical so that we can make an informed decision on whether or not to legalize it, or use it for medical purposes, and the potential for improving people’s lives is enough that marijuana deserves our attention.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.