An influential think tank in Washington DC issued a report Tuesday calling on the federal government to quit obstructing scientific research when it comes to medical cannabis.
“The federal government is stifling medical research in a rapidly transforming area of public policy that has consequences for public health and public safety,” the report, released by the Brookings Institution, reads. “It is increasingly important that the scientific community conduct research on (medical marijuana).”
Barriers to cannabis research have hampered the medical marijuana industry’s growth, as there are few credible scientific studies examining the potential health impacts of the drug.
The report goes on to blast the federal government for maintaining marijuana’s listing on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I of narcotics, meaning it has no acceptable medicinal value. Marijuana’s federal classification also makes it more difficult for well-meaning scientists to study the possible benefits of cannabis.
The report outlines the processes and hurdles of rescheduling, and notes that four petitions have been filed with the DEA to either reschedule or deschedule marijuana. Three of the four have been denied.
But there is precedent, the report found: There are five instances of a drug being moved from Schedule I to Schedule II, and two instances of a drug being removed from the list altogether.
The Obama administration recently eliminated a regulatory hurdle for medical marijuana studies, but it’s unclear at this point if the move will actually help spur more studies.