Marijuana Gears Up for Production High in US Labs
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Marijuana Gears Up for Production High in US Labs
Posted by CN Staff on March 19, 2015 at 07:05:49 PT
By Sara Reardon and Nature Magazine
Source: Scientific American
USA -- Residents of 23 US states can buy medical marijuana to treat everything from cancer pain to anxiety, but US scientists must wade through onerous paperwork to score the drug for study. Their sole dealer is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a contract with the University of Mississippi in Oxford to produce marijuana for research purposes.The agency has long faced complaints that its marijuana is too weak to represent what is sold on the street, and contains low levels of the non-psychedelic chemicals that show therapeutic promise for conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain. Now, with legal marijuana increasingly available to the US public, NIDA is quietly changing course—working to expand the amount and variety of the drug available for study.
“We want to be able to evaluate the claims that marijuana is therapeutically beneficial” and to explore treatments for addiction, says Nora Volkow, director of NIDA in Rockville, Maryland.In 2014, the institute increased its spending on research marijuana by 50%. Annual production at the University of Mississippi farm, where all the agency supplies are grown, soared from 18 to 600 kilograms, and the crop harvested late last year includes two new strains. One has low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s primary active ingredient, but high levels of cannabidiol, a non-hallucinogenic substance that seems to have therapeutic effects. The second has relatively balanced levels of the two chemicals.Mahmoud ElSohly, who directs the University of Mississippi cultivation programme, says that the new strains will soon be ready to ship to researchers. But the farm’s improved offerings may not appease NIDA’s critics—including US states such as Colorado, which legalized recreational pot use in 2012. In December, the Colorado state government asked the federal government to allow state universities to grow marijuana for research, citing bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining products from NIDA and from private growers overseas.And the agency’s most potent strains still fall short of the most powerful street pot. At least 90% of the marijuana seized by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) contains high levels of THC—often more than 20% by weight. NIDA’s pot contains 12% THC at most. “Let me just say: lame,” says Rick Doblin, director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a non-profit organization in Santa Cruz, California, that funds research into mind-altering drugs.It is not clear how NIDA’s plants compare with those distributed by medical-marijuana dispensaries. Although legal under local state laws, such dispensaries are still illegal under federal law, so researchers cannot simply buy pot there to test. And because Congress voted last year to prohibit the federal government from raiding such facilities, the products are not available for NIDA to study, either. “I don’t know what dispensaries have,” says ElSohly. “I wish I did.”The pool of US scientists who study marijuana is small, and to Volkow’s surprise, it has not grown despite the increasing availability of legal pot and NIDA’s efforts to ease limits on such research. Volkow suspects that scientists may simply need time to plan new experiments that involve marijuana, which must be evaluated by NIDA, the DEA and, in the case of clinical research, the Food and Drug Administration.Donald Abrams, a physician at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies cannabinoids as cancer therapies, offers another theory. The rise of precision medical technologies such as gene therapy makes it less attractive to study a plant, he says—particularly one as controversial as marijuana.Doblin suggests that successful therapies derived from marijuana are most likely to emerge outside the United States, in countries where licensed growers can provide the plant at relatively low cost and in high quantities. GW Pharmaceuticals in Salisbury, UK, uses marijuana from its private farm to produce Sativex (nabiximols), a multiple-sclerosis drug that is approved for use in 27 countries. And private growers in Israel and Canada produce research- and clinical-grade pot that is cheaper than NIDA’s crop. (The agency charges researchers US$1,525 per kilogram, or $7 per cigarette.)NIDA says that it plans to limit its pot programme to individual researchers for the time being. But there is a nascent push in Congress to end the agency’s monopoly on research marijuana: bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate on 10 March would allow at least three growers to obtain licences to cultivate pot for studies.If the US government decides to expand legal marijuana production significantly, Canada could serve as a model. In April 2014, the Canadian government began allowing private firms to apply to grow medical marijuana; it has since awarded 16 licences. Canadian researchers who want to study marijuana or perform clinical trials obtain the drug by partnering with a grower. Because multiple companies hold licences, there is wide diversity in the strains available.“The system that’s implemented right now will allow for really good collaborations,” says Joshua Eades, chief science officer of the medical-marijuana producer Tilray in Nanaimo, Canada. The company is working with researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna on an 40-person clinical trial of marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Expected to start in early summer, it will be one of the largest-ever tests of marijuana for mental health.With pot increasingly available to science outside the United States, Doblin says, “the NIDA monopoly is doomed.”Source: Scientific American (US)Author: Sara Reardon and Nature MagazinePublished: March 19, 2015Copyright: 2015 Scientific American, Inc.Contact: editors sciam.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on March 20, 2015 at 13:54:45 PT:
GCW, the Repubs have a ton of making up to do
But then, they are facing the same demographic shift the Dems are facing as well. And at the same time. It's adapt to that shift or lose the facade of populism that hides the Big Money operators. And that means accommodating the once unthinkable: re-legalization.The problem is that they still don't fully understand what has happened. Both Parties need fresh blood. Their former bases, having been used and discarded, are being brought down by the Grim Reaper. They're looking for younger tools to use.What they don't get is that we're wise to them. They believe their own propaganda about us, which was useful in BSing their former bases, which held certain generational prejudices as being 'truths' that served as 'justifications' for the DrugWar...which was used to attack the succeeding generations that they now need to replace the dwindling base.The irony of this should be evident. We are the majority now, and can dictate terms. They want us now? After all they've done to us in the past?We want something too, and if they want us, then it will be on OUR TERMS, NOT THEIRS.Legalization. Period. None of their little caveats, none of their little tricks, straight up legalization on our terms.They need numbers to hide the fact that they are almost wholly run subsidiaries of the M/PIC and their 'leadership' is a Who's Who of the 1%ers. They are looking for a new coat of paint for their Potemkin Village (the US political system). They think we'll make useful idiots, be their pawns, and do their bidding for a promise of legalization, a promise with no weight to it.Like I said, we're wise to them. We see them coming. It's not going to go the way they think it will, not this time. Too many know too much, thanks to the Internet. Their BSEQ (BS Effectiveness Quotient) is dropping like a stone. The Fourth Turning is upon us, and the old system which has no value for those it has robbed of a future and therefore have no reason to play by its rules, anymore.Big changes in the future. And that future does not include cannabis (and by derivation, drug) prohibition. We're already close to the finish line; what can the Parties offer us? Less resistance than they already supply? What kind of deal is that?No more settling for their crumbs. No more taking what they dish out. WE ARE THE MAJORITY, NOW; LET'S ACT LIKE IT! The more States we get under out belt, ASAP, the less we need their (dying) political machines. If they want our help, we want a contact signed in their blood (they've spilled enough of ours, over the decades).Like I said, with the massive demographic shift underway that will transform most of the power structures in this country, they have no choice but to acceded to our demands to re-legalize cannabis. It's a litmus test for pols. Fail it, and they prove themselves not progressive enough to do the work needed in other areas of government. And a lot of them know it.
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Comment #5 posted by observer on March 20, 2015 at 12:01:54 PT
Scientific American - government lapdog
Think about it. In your present police state, "science" all comes filtered and skimmed and denatured, by government. Little "science" gets funded in the police state, except by government (interchangeable with revolving-door corporatist cutouts). Prestigious magazines like Scientific American act as sheep-herders, never letting the sheep stray into (what the police state claims) is "unscientific" territory. By that the police state means, "anything which might threaten the police state's majesty, authority, power, or funding."  That's the payload of Scientific American. Oh sure, they need exciting covers and at least some interesting scientific and truth-y articles to hold it together. But the police-state payload of Scientific American is intended to keep you on the plantation, where the police state wants you.Marihuana Menaces YouthScientific American March 1936 p 150Marihuana smoking has spread so rapidly that the drug has become a serious menace, particularly among youthful lawbreakers. The drug, also known as loco weed, muggles, Indian hay, Indian hemp, hasheesh, laughing tobacco, and reefers, is dried and rolled into cigarettes selling from five to 25 cents apiece. From 300 to 500 cigarettes can be made from a pound, making it highly profitable for underworld vendors.Marihuana produces a wide variety of symptoms in the user, including hilarity, swooning, and sexual excitement. combined with intoxicants, it often makes the smoker vicious, with a desire to fight and kill.Addiction to the drug is common in Mexico and some authorities have estimated that as many as one out of every four persons in some southern states are users. Out of 450 prisoners examined in New Orleans in 1930, 125 were found to be addicts. Despite the vicious effects of marihuana, only 17 states have laws against it and its control is not yet included under the federal Harrison narcotic act.American "science" is government "science" - "science" in the service of government. Chiefly funded are (and let's cut to the chase here) scientific methods for government to better cow you into obedience and submission, so that corrupt government hirelings may better farm you, and steal the fruits of your labor. The most popular government "science" funding is for finding scientific new ways to murder people. Oh sure, government and their media courtesans try to gussy that pig up, but when you take off your governmental induced propaganda blinkers, that's what it comes down to. Government "science" in the service of lying, to the end that government may better use science to steal from you, government science for techniques to kill you, and government science used to destroy.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on March 20, 2015 at 06:30:09 PT
"What's next?"From what I'm reading, Repubs may start helping like never before. They rightly calculate cannabis bringing young voters in 2016 and they will face a massacre if they don't squelch some of this.Can hardly wait.Florida almost got it's 60% and REpub's may have calculated there with that miniscule cannabis policy that that was all they needed to do...
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on March 19, 2015 at 17:47:52 PT:
Winning on all fronts
Proof? The once inflexible NIDA bends to the reality that their schwag is scheisse. Which the Compassionate Use people had rightfully complained about for years. "Twigs and stems and seeds, oh my! Twigs and stems and seeds, oh my!" (with apologies to Dorothy)Will wonders never cease? What's next? (Scans sky for porcine aviators.) 
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Comment #2 posted by Quax Mercy on March 19, 2015 at 16:03:01 PT:
Fed Cotton-pickers
To Rick Doblin's "Lame," let me just add: pathetic. The sooner these Fed cotton-pickers' fingers are pried off of everything to do with this business, the better for the achin' masses. Bottom line, as Dr. Gupta confessed two years ago, "We have been terribly & systematically misled for some time." Yeah, that'd be 80+ years. At some point, some Judge is going to look up and say, "I've come to realize how brazenly, murderously duplicitous you Feds have been in your misrepresentations of this beneficent commodity. You all are hereby done for." And then it will be time to relocate, Nora. I am NOT suggesting Mexico.
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Comment #1 posted by End of the Rope on March 19, 2015 at 15:49:49 PT:
Chain of Custody
  Given the history of our government when it comes to the subject of Cannabis it is without doubt that they should be removed from any "Chain of Custody" where medical research is concerned. Trust disappeared along time ago and they alone are responsible.
  Doublin has it right, "the NIDA monopoly is doomed." They just simply aren't trusted anymore.Just for giggles it was pretty funny that he called their pot "lame".Great article!
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