If you ever get a chance to talk to a medical researcher about marijuana, they will be quick to tell you just how hard it is to research the medical benefits of marijuana. The science side of the research is not the problem, it’s the bureaucratic side that largely prevents medical benefit based marijuana research. A story came out yesterday which found that almost 80% of marijuana research money does not go towards researching marijuana’s medical benefits. Instead it goes to fund research into marijuana addiction and abuse. Per USA Today:
An analysis by News21 shows that $1.1 billion of the $1.4 billion that the National Institutes of Health spent on marijuana research from 2008 to 2014 went to study abuse and addiction. Only $297 million was spent on its effects on the brain and potential medical benefits for those suffering from conditions like chronic pain. News21 is a Carnegie-Knight national student reporting project based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
News21 analyzed federally funded drug research projects from 2008 to 2014 using the NIH’s publicly available database. The $1.1 billion the agency spent to study marijuana abuse and addiction was $200 million more than what the organization spent on research into crystal meth, a highly addictive stimulant that the DEA has called an epidemic.
While NIH spent $297 million on grants for non-abuse research of marijuana, it provided two to four times as much for similar research of opiates and benzodiazepines, including drugs such as Xanax, according to the News21 analysis. Opiates are the narcotics that Vanderah said can cause prescription drug dependency or even heroin abuse.
No one has ever died from simply consuming marijuana. Can marijuana be abused? Sure, but someone can also abuse cheeseburgers as celebrity Joe Rogan always points out. Marijuana research should be based on science, and not on politics. Marijuana has a lot of medical benefits, proven by the fact that the federal government owns patents related to the medical benefits of marijuana. A lot of people will say that’s why the federal government wants to prevent medical research as much as possible when it comes to marijuana, and I think there’s a lot of truth behind that claim.