Medical marijuana has been legalized in 36 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It has also been legalized in 19 states for recreational use. But despite that opposition still lingers with dividing opinions on its health benefits. Many, including mainstream media, believe that long-term cannabis use can bring adverse health effects.
The best way to settle the debate is through old-school, scientific-based research. However, few have been conducted over the decade, which comes as a surprise considering the industry has been valued to bring in over $7.1 billion. So why is there so little interest towards cannabis research?
The short answer, money. Due to persistent stigma, very little funding is allocated towards cannabis research, and even fewer is targeted toward the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids. There’s also the issue of legal barriers that researchers have to go through in order to acquire cannabis supplies for their research. The current process requires one to go through a labyrinth of review processes that involve the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), institutional review boards, offices or departments in state government, state boards of medical examiners, the researcher’s home institution, and potential funders.
These are just a few examples of hurdles that are preventing us from uncovering the secrets of cannabis, many of which are highlighted in this scientific review: