By Marguerite Arnold
Right before Christmas, on Dec. 23, 2015, the DEA released a press release quietly announcing a new federal advancement on cannabinoid research. The agency has now loosened regulations for those conducting FDA-approved clinical trials on CBD.
The agency immediately contacted all current CBD researchers to inform them of the changes, which took place immediately.
The news was met with instant approval from both advocates and the business community.
“While it is widely accepted that marijuana offers medical providers another effective drug to offer patients, given that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, medical marijuana research is harder to obtain,” said Marc Ross, a partner at Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference in New York. “As a result, it is very encouraging that the DEA is lifting restrictions for CBD trials.”
That said, many were also quick to point out that the DEA is still slow off the mark, starting with CBD research but obviously not limited to just this cannabinoid but THC as well.
“While we are happy to read that the DEA is allowing for research into the medical benefits of CBD, we also see that more change is needed. CBD is still considered to be a Schedule 1 narcotic, and this classification of any medicinal cannabinoids is detrimental and inconsistent with what we know to be true about cannabis,” said Julianna Carella, the founder and CEO of Auntie Dolores, an edibles company. “There are many cannabinoids present in cannabis that should be researched, and the whole plant should be removed from the CSA list if we are going to recognize the full depth and breadth of the plant and its medical benefits.”
“This easing should be done for marijuana as well,” Ross also pointed out. “After all, whether marijuana is legal or not, there should be adequate trials to prove or disprove its medical efficacy. We allow testing for other drugs; we should allow testing marijuana. This is especially true considering the large number of states that allow for medical marijuana—24—and the large number of states that are likely to legalize medical marijuana in the near future—over 9.”
Carella was in agreement. “Removing cannabis from the CSA would allow for research into how these compounds work together most optimally, as stated by project CBD, ‘The impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts,’” she said. “Removing all of the cannabinoids from the CSA would be a truly ground-breaking thing for the DEA to do.”
That day, while not here yet, however, is clearly dawning on the horizon. Given the attention the issue is going to get during the presidential election next year, it is entirely likely that the next sitting president, if not Congress, will be required to go where the DEA has yet to tread.