Drugs  
comments_image Comments

White House Drug Strategy Report No Real Interest in Studying Marijuana, Just Demonizing It

The White House’s official justification for the ongoing multigenerational drug war was light on facts and heavy on rhetoric.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share
 
 
 

As for the other 95 US scientists legally authorized by the federal government to assess the efficacy of ‘marijuana extracts and marijuana derivatives’ in animals, most of them  were here last week — at the annual meeting of the  International Cannabinoid Research Society. But even these ‘chosen few’ acknowledge that there work has next to no influence on the very administration that authorizes it.

Marijuana Researchers Meet At Pheasant Run
Researchers from around the world studying the effects of marijuana and exploring possible medical uses meet each year to compare notes and share their findings

About 250 scientists from around the world have gathered this weekend at Pheasant Run Resort sitting through seminars titled “Endocannabinoid Signaling in Periimplantation Biology,” and “Cannabinoids and HIV Pathogenicity,” to name a few, for the 21st Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

ICRS members meet once a year to compare notes on research studying how cannabinoids, compounds from the cannabis plant (more commonly known as marijuana) or from the brain called endocannabinoids, affect the body and how it functions.

While most attendees are scientists, many are graduate students or training scientists as well as physicians interested in learning how these chemicals might be useful in treating human disease.

“We are all around the world working on our own projects,” said Cecilia Hillard, ICRS executive director, professor of pharmacology and director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“That’s why it’s so wonderful for us to get together once a year so we can really share things that we learn,” she said.

For example, she said someone may be studying how bone is formed, and she is studying how the brain works.

“I learn a lot by learning how the bone is formed, and they learn about how neurons work,” Hillard said. “It’s really a lot of what we call a ‘cross-fertilization’ of ideas.”

While the society is not political, Hillard says the type of research that is done on the controversial topic of medical and personal use of marijuana is nonetheless important.

“We’re carrying out scientific investigations trying to understand what these molecules do,” Hillard said. “What we try to contribute to the debate is the reality.”

She said scientific investigation is done in a very neutral way, trying to understand what these molecules do.

“The mass appeal is, ‘is there a good use for this in the treatment of human disease?’” Hillard said. “Most of us really have a passion for looking at these molecules because there is a lot of potential for treatment of human disease.”

The findings of this research are published in scientific journals so that the information is available to anyone. She said sometimes “you have no idea the impact your work is having.” Hillard said part of the mission of the ICRS is to educate the public.

“I wish the politicians would (look at the data) but I don’t think they do,” she said.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).

 
See more stories tagged with: