White House Takes Huge Step Forward In Fight Over Marijuana Research

06/22/2015 09:03 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015
  • Ryan Grim Washington Bureau Chief, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The White House took a major step forward on Monday to support research into the medical properties of marijuana, lifting a much-maligned bureaucratic requirement that had long stifled scientific research.

By eliminating the Public Health Service review requirement, the Department of Health and Human Services will help facilitate research into the drug.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers had called for the requirement to be lifted.

The requirement had long outgrown today's marijuana politics. Even opponents of legalization have called for it to be lifted. As HuffPost's Matt Ferner reported earlier:

Currently, marijuana research that is not funded by the government must go through a Public Health Service review -- a process established in 1999 by the federal government after a 1998 Institute of Medicine report called for more scientific research into the medical value of marijuana.

It's a process that no other substance classified by the government as Schedule I is subject to and one that researchers and lawmakers alike have criticized.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients. Schedule I is reserved for what the DEA considers to have the highest potential for abuse and no medical value. Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I for decades, alongside other substances like heroin and LSD.

Drug czar spokesman Mario Moreno Zepeda said, “The Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine. Eliminating the Public Health Service review should help facilitate additional research to advance our understanding of both the adverse effects and potential therapeutic uses for marijuana or its components.”

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