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A Closer Look at Cannabis Testing
Scott Kuzdzal, Ph.D., Bob Clifford, Ph.D., Paul Winkler and Will Bankert (Shimadzu Scientific Instruments)
Introduction – Current US Cannabis Research, Policy & Law
More recently, thirty members of the US Congress sent a letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary demanding an end to the federal monopoly on marijuana research so that more studies can be performed by US researchers.
Cannabis has demonstrated health benefits since ancient times. While less than 6% of today’s studies on marijuana analyze its medical properties, publications to date indicate that cannabis shows great promise for the treatment of many diseases and symptoms (Table 1). However, patients with cancer or severe pain, for example, have been blocked from these benefits since the mid-20th century when federal regulations were enacted that prohibited the use, sales and distribution of marijuana due to its psychoactive properties. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated in 2011 that marijuana has “no accepted medical use” and should therefore remain illegal under federal law.
Mainstream acceptance of cannabis has increased steadily over the past decade in the United States. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have legalized or decriminalized marijuana in some form. Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use, with Oregon soon to follow suit. Maryland has approved bills making medical marijuana accessible to patients and decriminalizing possession of limited amounts of the drug. As the medical and recreational uses of cannabinoids increases both in the United States and globally, the need for improved quality control testing also increases.
Strict scheduling and law enforcement actions have made it more difficult for researchers to obtain marijuana samples for scientific studies than LSD, MDMA, heroin and cocaine. In June, 2014, the Drug Policy Alliance and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies released a report titled “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science.” Citing case studies from 1972 to the present, this report claims that the DEA suppressed research on the positive benefits of marijuana for medicinal use.
On a recent tour of medicinal marijuana businesses in the State of Oregon, we learned all aspects of the cannabis industry and key differences between recreational and medical marijuana grow operations.
Appears to have powerful anti-tumor properties Reduces pain associated with chemotherapy Treats glaucoma by lowering intraocular pressure Decreases symptoms of epileptic seizures
Improves symptoms associated with Lupus Shows promise in eliminating Crohn’s disease Reduces pain in multiple sclerosis patients Helps fight obesity by increasing metabolism Reduces frequency and severity of concussions Helps reduce muscle spasms
Reduces brain damage after a stroke
Relieves discomfort from arthritis
Lessens side effects from hepatitis C treatments
Reverses the carcinogenic effects of tobacco use Decreases anxiety and improves appetite
Treats inflammatory bowel disease
Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases
Table 1 Partial listing of reported health benefits of cannabis in scientific literature and news reports (see suggested reading at the end of this article).
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