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Marijuana for use in US research is grown at only one federally approved facility, at the University of Mississippi in Dslord.



Federal red tape ties up


marijuana research



Despite drug ?3 legalization in two US states, biomedical science faces continued restrictions.






idden in a locked ro om on New


HYork University?s campus in lower


Manhattan, a halfwtonne steel safe


guards hundreds of vials of a drug extracted


from marijuana. To the US government, the


drug u? Epidioleic u? is one of the world?s most


dangerous substances, ripe for abuse. But to


Drrin Devinsky, a neurologist at the univerd


sity, it is a potential treatment for tremors in


children with severe epilepsy.


Although Epidioleir, made by GW



Pharmaceuticals in Salisbury, UK, is not


psychoactive, it to ok Devinsi-cy sis frustrating


months to secure local and national approval


for a clinical trial Lhatbegan in January. ?if some


teenagers broke in, they?d get nothing out ofiti"


he says. The physical and regulatory barriers


that nevertheless surround Epidioleit point to


the stigma that continues to stymie research on


marijuana and its derivatives, even in US states


that have moved to legalize its sale and use, such


as Colorado and Washington {see ?Slow burn?).



Colorado?s legal marijuana sales began in lan-


uary and are booming. The state?s legislators are



weighing a proposal to provide US$33" million to


study the drug?s therapeutic potential. But even


if the measure is enacted, Colorado research -



we might not be permitted to use locally groan


plants for their studies, and would need to



clear several levels of government approval


before running any clinical trials. The US Drug


Enforcement Agency {DEA} still classi?es mari?


juana alongside heroin and LED as a substance


with ?no currently accepted medical use and a


high potential for abuse?.



?It?s a terrible. terrible parades.? says


Devinsky. ?The federal government is I"



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to pursue studies only through federally


appmved channels, although it acknowledged


that the NIDA supply may not be representa?


tive of many marijuana strains available to peo?


ple in the state. ?As a university that receives


federal ?nancial aid and federal research


funding, we have to abide by federal laws.? says


Ken McConnellogue, a university spokesman.


Cine field that does seem likely to flourish


in Colorado and Washington is public?health


research. foicials in both states are preparing


surveys and studies to track long?term rates of


marijuana use as accessibility and social accept-


ance of the drug increase, and as largesscale data


I Marque-rallied become available for the ?rst time. ?We have


for adult use _ _ . more people using marijuana, and people are


med???fma m%w?wmlh??nd??i?:amum rrt?re Willing to tellyclll that they?re: usmg It:I says


Laura Borgelt, a clmrcal pharmacist at the Um-


versity of Colorado in Burma, who is interested


?- severely limiting the research thatwe can do." in research marijuana, explains Mahmoud in studying the effects of maternal marijuana


Currently, the US National Institute on ElSohly, who directs the NIDA Marijuana use during pregnancy on child development.


Drug abuse {NIBA} runs the nation?s only Project at the University of Mississippi. Other topics of interest include possible


federally sanctioned marijuana farm. pro- Still, he anticipates imminent research changes associated with marijuana in the use of


ducin g a research supply through a contract demand for more plant varieties, especially alcohol and other drugs. trends in car accidents


with the University of Mississippi in Cleord, some containing higher concentrations of and risky behaviour, and school performance.


To obtain the strain, researchers ? even those CED. Emerging data suggest that the chemi- Last year, NIDA awarded more than $1 million


with private or local funding ?- must gain cal exhibits anticonvulsant, anti?in?ammatory in supplemental funding to five groups to study


approval from the Department of Health and pain?relieving effects, while lacking ? or some of these questions in the context of the


and Human Services {HHS} or the National perhaps even countering ? the psychoactive natural epidemiological experiments under


Institutes of Health, as well as the Food and effects of THCH. a few highly publicized wayinColorado and Washington.


Drug administration (Fox). The DEA and anecdotes involving the use of marijuana Few data exist to predict the effects of legal-



Even in states where


marijuana is legal for


adults tr:- use withuut


restrictions, federal


rules hamper research


on me drug.









local drug-enforcement officials must also products for treating ising the drug?s use and sale. Studies of the


approve research facilities for secure storage ?Thefedeml severe epilepsy in ?non-enforcement? cannabis system in the


and handling of marijuana. The approval goverrmrenfis children have also Netherlands by Robert MacCoun, a social


process can last for years. severely limiting stoked intense public psychologist at the University of California,



Susanne Sisley, a clinical psychiatrist at the the mgemh interest in high?CED Berkeley, suggest that marijuana consumption


University of Arizona College of Medicine in {1111th can (In, ? marijuana. its reports rose in the Ilii?ils, as marijuana shops became


Phoenix, knows this well. In Elli 1, she secured surface of families widespread?i. Crverall, however, rates of mari-



approval from the FDA to conduct a trial of moving to Colorado to gain access to CED for juana use in the Netherlands are comparable


marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress dis- their children, Devinsky and other researchers to those in other European countries.



order in US military veterans. But it was not seean urgent need to accelerate scienti?cinves- Cultural differences make it dif?cult to


until two weeks ago ? nearly three years later tigations of the substance. extrapolate those findings to the United States,


? that she received clearance from the HHS. ElSohly has already prepared one variety of warns MacCoun. His group has begun to study


Although Sisley already has plenty of vnlun? marijuana that contains equal amounts of CED patterns of drug use in Washmgton, and he is


tee rs for her T'li ?pe rson trial, her laboratory and THC, and is hoping to grow a high? CED, looking forward to seeing data from Colorado


will have to pass inspections by drug of?cials low-THC variety later this year. ?With all the researchersSTm watching quite eagerly to see


before it can receive limited quantities of the publicity going on right now, I?m sure some- what we can learn.? I



only federally approved marijuana strain. body is going to request that.? he says. . C 1 s.


That variety contains relatively high levels But the diversity of recreational marijuana 1' ?i'hpgl?gr??j?mjjégg? $31533; D33??? Egg},


of tetrahydroc annabinol {THC}, marijuana?s strains ?ooding the Colorado marketplace ? {gg?gy ' 1 ' '



primary active ingredient, and low levels of such as?lemon skunk: ?golden goat? and ?bubba 2- Hill. Finis Williams, C. M. Whalley, 3- J. ii: Stepheria



- - ? _ r _ - - i3.J. Fharmsccl Thar. 133, iii?El? {2012}.


cannabidrol [CB El}, another potentially thera kush will not help to fill the research void. 3' Niesinlr, F. J! 3: van Lear. M. W. Front. Psychiatry 4+



peutic component. Such controlled cultiva? In a memo earlier this month, the University 13g (3mg),


tion helps to maintain chemical consistency of Colorado reminded its faculty members 4. Mac?oun, R.J.Addictisn 106, 1399?1910 {2011}.



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M ORE waves cause quotas not based on science guaturl. planet; the Now


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ONLINE across I Human olfaction can distinguish at the true effects of


physics least 1 trillion scents [aniline-Mlle weight-reduction


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Illlfll structure from DNA ??llfllsllltlln?ll Illurllllliutl





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it} 21314 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved





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