Clinton to Lift Restrictions on Medical Marijuana!

Clinton to Lift Restrictions on Medical Marijuana!
Posted by FoM on May 21, 1999 at 07:28:05 PT
This is Great News!
Source: Detroit News
WASHINGTON In a major policy reversal, the Clinton administration is expected to announce today that it will release its hold on research-quality marijuana and make it available to scientists who want to study its medical effects.
For more than 20 years, the production and distribution of marijuana for clinical research has been restricted under several federal laws and international agreements, making it all but impossible for nonfederally funded researchers to obtain it.   Scientists must go through a cumbersome and often bureaucratic process to get it, which few have successfully tried.   The policy was originally established to ensure uniform quality standards for marijuana used in research and was generally supported. However, the substance then became extremely difficult for researchers to obtain.   Under the new policy, which loosens these restrictions, private researchers, including physicians, will be allowed to buy and use it for studies. A senior administration official said the change could "open the door" to a flood of research proposals and studies.   The issue has been the subject of intense national debate and political pressure. Advocates insist that the laws forbidding the medical uses of marijuana are cruel and inhumane. Opponents argue that sanctioning marijuana for any purposes only gives a green light to illegal drug use and would further encourage it.   The news of a shift in administration policy was welcomed by marijuana medical advocates who have been clamoring for more research.   "For the last 22 years, the federal government has had a lock on the use of whole smoked marijuana for studies -- they grow it at the University of Mississippi ... and activists and reformers and legitimate scientists have wanted to have access to it to conduct studies and have had no luck," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation.   A senior administration official said the change was supported by Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who has in the past opposed the medical uses of marijuana.   The official predicted that the accessibility would "increase the likelihood that we finally get honest-to-God scientific answers on this very important issue."   The Department of Health and Human Services said researchers seeking access to the drug must be involved in studies generally following guidelines from the Institute of Medicine report. They also must pay the government for the drug.   Such studies would "be expected to yield useful data and therefore, will be more likely to be eligible to receive marijuana under the HHS program."   There are few NIH-funded studies using marijuana, and only a few individuals in the country receive government-owned marijuana for medical reasons. 
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