The California “medical marijuana” system is a bad joke. But it’s hard to blame it on the pot activists when the Federal government continues to obstruct real research into the medical utility of cannabis. One of the barriers to approving whole cannabis as a medicine is that it’s generally smoked, and smoking is generally a bad idea. But a study of vaporization as an alternative to smoking – a study not even involving giving the drug to any patients – has been blocked for three years by the inability of the research team to get a few grams of cannabis from the monopoly supplier.
On the one hand, there’s no particular reason not to do the research abroad, where the authorities are less obstructionist; that’s been the strategy of GW Pharma with its Sativex whole-cannabis extract. But on the other, there’s also no reason why it should be impossible to do that work here. And the demand that cannabis be shown to be better than something else, rather than merely safe and effective, before it’s approved strikes me as wrong-headed. People vary in their reactions to drugs, so giving doctors and patients more options is generally better.
This issue tests the commitment of the Obama Administration to science-based policy. I have my fingers crossed.