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Psychologists Group Slams Barriers To Marijuana Research

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The U.S.’s largest organization of psychology professionals is urging the federal government to stop making it so hard for researchers to study marijuana.

“Major barriers to research are preventing scientists from pursuing the full range of research that is needed to understand the impacts of recreational and therapeutic use of cannabinoids,” the American Psychological Association (APA) said in a recent advocacy briefing. “Marijuana and its constituent compounds are categorized as Schedule I (having no Food and Drug Administration-approved therapeutic use), and all research conducted with marijuana requires that investigators register with the DEA.”

APA, which represents more than 115,000 scientists, clinicians and educators, pointed out that the process to register to study cannabis “can take more than a year to complete and creates administrative burdens that serve as significant disincentives to pursuing research” and that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) oversight “involves redundant scientific protocol review.”

The Controlled Substance Act’s Schedule I — the most restrictive category — is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Researchers have long complained that marijuana’s classification there creates additional hurdles that don’t exist for studies on other substances.

Heroin and LSD are also in Schedule I alongside cannabis, yet cocaine and methamphetamine are classified in the less-restrictive Schedule II category.

While APA isn’t calling for changes to marijuana’s criminal penalties, its criticism of the roadblocks to marijuana research created by the drug’s current federal classification adds to a growing consensus that something needs to change.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee called on federal agencies last month to prepare a report on the ways Schedule I limits cannabis research.

Also last month, California lawmakers passed a joint resolution calling for federal marijuana rescheduling.

APA, in its advocacy briefing, pointed out that DEA’s role in the marijuana research process creates unnecessary confusion.

“Investigators often report that the guidance they receive is unclear and that DEA inspections, security requirements and variable experiences with state DEA field offices add to the obstacles they face,” the organization said.

The organization, working in a coalition with other groups — including leading prohibitionist outfit Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) — is supporting a new bipartisan Senate bill to remove some of the barriers to cannabis research.

That legislation was filed last month by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and an initial list of four cosponsors. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) added her name to the bill on Monday.

“By creating an exception for marijuana from the current obstacles of Schedule I registration and review procedures, the bill provides a sensible streamlined approach for the review of applications and granting of registrations to conduct research with marijuana,” APA, SAM and other groups including the American Pain Society, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine wrote in their sign-on letter.

Photo courtesy of Interiorrain.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Science & Health

Dogs Treated With Cannabis Oil Experience Less Frequent Seizures, Study Finds

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Dogs with epilepsy experience considerably fewer seizures when treated with CBD oil, a new study published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science found.

The small study—which followed three dogs receiving hemp-derived CBD treatment over the course of two months, indicates that dogs respond to the cannabis compound in a way that’s similar to humans.

The dogs ranged in age and breed. One was a three-year-old Labrador Retriever that suffered seizures spaced out one month apart on average, another was an 11-year-old Papillon that experienced seizures every two to three months and the last was a 10-year-old Chihuahua that has infrequent seizures about twice a year.

For the experiment, each dog was treated with CBD twice a day on an empty stomach. The findings are based on reports from the owners, two out of three of whom said the treatment improved their dog’s condition. The Papillon’s owner said the dog’s condition was unchanged.

“The owner [of the Labrador Retriever] reported that the dog slept longer and barked less in the daytime, even when other dogs were excited, during the first two weeks than in the preceding weeks,” the study authors wrote. “Overall, the owner felt that the dog showed improvement.”

“The owner [of the Chihuahua] felt that seizure-like behavior during the attacks had decreased slightly with treatment,” they wrote. “The owner also reported that the dog showed less aggression toward familiar people, such as the owner’s children.”

While the sample size of the study is particularly small, making it difficult to draw broad conclusions, the researchers said “seizure frequency improved considerably and owners reported a positive impression” of the CBD treatment.

It’s not clear if the same biochemical mechanisms that make CBD an effective treatment for epilepsy in humans produced the effects in the dogs. It’s possible that, because seizures can be triggered by anxiety, the same “anxiolytic effect may attenuate the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs as well as humans.”

“Further research is needed for better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of CBD treatment,” the researchers wrote.

Last year, a separate study determined that CBD can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Dogs With Arthritis Benefit From Cannabis Oil, Study Says

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Science & Health

Study Finds Marijuana Motivates People To Exercise, Smashing Lazy Stoner Stereotype

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Most people who use marijuana report that consuming before or after exercising improves the experience and aids in recovery, according to a new study. And those who do use cannabis to elevate their workout tend to get a healthier amount of exercise.

Researchers at the University of Colorado surveyed more than 600 marijuana consumers in states where it is legal to assess how people use cannabis in relation to exercise. Their results, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, poke yet another hole in the lazy, couch-locked stoner stereotype.

Almost 500 participants said they endorse using marijuana one hour before, or up to four hours after, exercising. And based on data from the questionnaire, those who did use cannabis in that timeframe worked out longer than consumers who didn’t pair the activities. Specifically, those who engaged in co-use worked out an average of 43 minutes longer for aerobic exercise and 30 minutes longer for anaerobic exercise.

What’s behind the trend?

There are a few known barriers to exercise that researchers have identified: a lack of motivation, difficult recovery after working out and low enjoyment of the activity. Cannabis seems to help lift those barriers for some individuals.

Seventy percent of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that “cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise,” 78 percent said that marijuana “enhances recovery from exercise” and just over 50 percent said that it “increases motivation.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to survey attitudes and behavior regarding the use of cannabis before and after exercise, and to examine differences between cannabis users who engage in co-use, compared to those who do not,” the study authors wrote. “Given both the spreading legalization of cannabis and the low rates of physical activity in the US, it behooves public health officials to understand the potential effects—both beneficial and harmful—of cannabis use on exercise behaviors.”

While it might seem counterintuitive given how cannabis consumers have typically been portrayed in media, there’s a growing body of research showing that many marijuana enthusiasts engage in active lifestyles and that cannabis is associated with positive health outcomes. For example, another recent study found that people who use marijuana are less likely to be obese compared to non-users.

Marijuana Consumers Gain Less Weight Than Non-Users, Study Confirms

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Politics

Another Federal Agency Wants You To Stop Calling About A Marijuana-Related Job

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Six days after posting a notice that calls for a contractor to prepare and distribute research drug products like marijuana cigarettes, a federal agency posted an update, emphasizing that private citizens are not being encouraged to apply for a casual joint-rolling job.

Why? Well, it might have something to do with various viral articles reporting on the opening—and readers who then volunteer for the role.

On Monday, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) added an unambiguous message at the top of the notice: “THE FOLLOWING IS A PRE-SOLICITATION NOTICE and is NOT ADVERTISEMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT.

The situation seems similar to another recent example that prompted the Houston division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ask private citizens to stop calling about a contractor opening to incinerate thousands of pounds of cannabis per hour.

The division wrote last month that “misleading articles” about the position “resulted in an influx of calls from citizens.”

“This solicitation was targeted for a large scale licensed vendor, not private citizens,” they wrote.

But according to NIDA, their problem isn’t quite as severe. In an email to Marijuana Moment, a representative of the agency said it has “only received a few public inquiries.” The spokesperson did not respond to a follow up question about the reasoning behind the update.

For serious candidates, the position isn’t as simple as rolling a massive amount of joints. The contractor must have “the capability to analyze and characterize various drugs of abuse including cannabinoids and other research chemicals” and also “acquire, develop, and produce marijuana and nicotine research cigarettes of varying strengths and specifications.”

NIDA posted several cannabis-related contract notices last year, including for professional joint rollers and bulk marijuana manufacturers.

The DEA Wants You To Stop Calling Them About Getting Paid To Burn Marijuana

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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