Obama Administration Removes Barriers For MMJ Research
The White House announced on Sunday that the Public Health Service (PHS) Review, which has been a major obstacle in marijuana research development, will be removed. The PHS Review was introduced by the Clinton Administration to make the Department of Health and Human Services conduct an individual review of all applications for all marijuana research. In turn, this meant that marijuana research was slowed so much to the point that it became more difficult to study than other drugs like heroine or cocaine. Removing the PHS Review is indicative of the White House's position to stop fighting the war against marijuana.
Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs, Bill Piper, stated, “This announcement shows that the White House is ready to move away from the war on medical marijuana, and enable the performance of legitimate and necessary research.” Marijuana advocates have long requested the removal of the PHS Review however, Piper says the White House also needs to end NIDA's monopoly on marijuana production as well. “This is progress, but the White House should also end the NIDA’s unique monopoly on marijuana production, and allow private entities to grow marijuana, thus facilitating even more important research.”
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug. The DEA still enforces that cannabis not be produced for marijuana research by private laboratories. Although multiple privately-funded manufacturers of all other Schedule I drugs have been licensed by the DEA, only the University of Mississippi is permitted to produce marijuana for research. NIDA has the facility under a contract which places a monopoly on the supply of marijuana available to scientists. Until now, all research protocols had to be approved by the PHS and NIDA.