Defocus medical marijuana close up cannabis buds with doctors stethoscope on white background.

Federal Prohibition is Preventing Widespread and Additional Research

The Mayo Clinic recently published a special edition of its Mayo Clinic Magazine, titled Medical Marijuana: The Science and Benefits.[1] It discusses how medical marijuana can be used to relieve pain, treat anxiety, and improve sleep, and addresses the many uses and medical benefits of CBD. This is just the latest of a slew of research publications touting the benefits and real uses of cannabis in recent years.[2] Though such publications have become commonplace, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, substances categorized as Schedule I within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., have “no currently acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse.”[3] As the body of research on marijuana grows, it will only become harder for the federal government to maintain its position that marijuana has “no currently acceptable medical use.” Thirty-eight states have already approved medical marijuana legislation.[4] The sky has not fallen. By failing to take marijuana off the Schedule I list, the federal government is doing the entire country a disservice, posing barriers to crucial research that might further our understanding of marijuana and its physiological benefits, and preventing regulatory authorities from establishing proper guidelines for the safe and effective use of cannabis as medicine.

Doctors are Unwilling to Recommend Cannabis Without this Research

In the absence of extensive research and medical guidelines, many doctors are hesitant to recommend cannabis to their patients, even in cases where it could be highly beneficial. Another result of marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance is the restriction on doctors treating their patients with marijuana. Many physicians, both in states that have and states that do not yet have a medical marijuana program, are unwilling to recommend cannabis as a treatment to their patients due to the lack of extensive research. This means patients whose conditions or symptoms might be treated or mitigated with the use of marijuana are stuck relying on prescription drugs whose efficacy and side effects may be fraught with problems, not the least of which is the rapidly rising cost of most prescription drugs.[5]

Unfortunately, without proper medical guidance, many customers who purchase cannabis at a dispensary rely on budtenders as a primary source for information about what symptoms cannabis products might alleviate. Budtenders have inadvertently become responsible for the delicate task of recommending the appropriate product for a patient’s specific needs. This system places undue responsibility on budtenders, and may lead to suboptimal patient outcomes. It is crucial for the medical community to be involved in the decision-making process and provide guidance based on the latest scientific evidence. It is long past time for marijuana to be removed from Schedule I.








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