I’m sure you know that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (the DEA) is considering rescheduling cannabis from its current restrictive and extremely overblown status as a Schedule I drug (which currently puts cannabis on par with heroin, and classifies it as more dangerous and addictive than methamphetamines, which are Schedule II). You may not know the people and organizations who are helping to pressure the Canadian federal government to help legalize the use of marijuana in research projects and medical applications, though. One of these organizations is the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable. With Germany and Mexico on the cusp of legalization over the next year, and other countries considering it as well, the U.S. might lag behind in medical research if we don’t continue the push for federal legalization and soon.
What is the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable?
According to the international Arthritis Society, the Medical Cannabis Research Roundtable (MCRR) is “a high-level group of physicians, clinicians, patients, health charities, experts and medical researchers” who urged the U.S. federal government to invest at least $25 million in cannabis-based medical research and trials over the next five years. The statement came on May 4, 2016, and the push is meant to accelerate studies into the positive or negative health impacts and “potential therapeutic benefits” of cannabis used in a medicinal manner. The Arthritis Society has its corporate headquarters in El Segundo, California, and its European HQ in Copenhagen, Denmark. In an attempt to gain visibility for the MCRR’s encouragement of cannabis medical research, the Arthritis Society has also earmarked $20,000 for a research grant for the MCRR.
MCRR Recommends Federal Government Investment in Medical Cannabis Research
The final report, available here, is entitled “Clearing the Air,” and details plans and ideas for Canadian clinical trials and barriers to patient access in Canada. The report states, “[a]s the federal government examines options for legalization of cannabis for recreational use, it is imperative that momentum not be lost and opportunities not be overlooked with respect to the uses of medical cannabis.” The purpose of the medical cannabis research the MCRR advocates is to:
1. Better understand current cannabis research in Canada.
2. Identify key cannabis researchers.
3. Identify research priorities for medical cannabis in the areas of clinical science, health services, and policy.
4. Ensure cannabis research is relevant to everyone involved in and affected by cannabis policies and services that are already in place.
Research Priorities of the MCRR
There are a few major focuses of the MCRR’s proposed medical cannabis research in Canada:
1. Understanding the way the endocannabinoid system (ECS, for short) acts in relation to diseases and illnesses of the human body and mind.
2. How cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids help with diseases and disease symptoms.
3. How cannabinoids relieve pain and inflammation.
4. How non-smoked cannabis can best deliver the medicinal benefits and relieve symptoms without smoking.
5. The effect of different levels of cannabinoid dosing on body and mind functioning.
6. How cannabinoids are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted in the human body.
As the report points out, the main requirement for testing all of these ideas and the medical effects of cannabis on people and animals is greater access to the actual plants and plant materials. Without state-permissible cannabis, the studies cannot go forward, and with extreme limitations on legal medical cannabis grows in many areas of the world and Canada, the research will not come quickly enough. Here’s hoping that the United States federal government will come to the same conclusion about the need for medical cannabis research in the near future.