The Conundrum of Cannabis Research pt. 2

Antique Cannabis Medicine Bottles

Two weeks ago we talked a little bit of why the industry is at a point of such stagnation. As it stands now, there are really two options to any movement forward; and they’re both a little daunting.

Re-scheduling Cannabis within the list of controlled substances is one option; although as High Times points out, no one in the industry would like what this would mean. Because re-scheduling to say schedule 2 or even 3 would still keep Cannabis within the list, it would remain a substance under the ever-tightening control of our beloved Federal government.

While this would potentially allow the research for everything from its many industrial benefits to its genetic heritage and especially insight into functions and benefits of Cannabinoid consumption, both isolated and grouped, as well as the role of terpenoid content; it would probably mean that any growth of this plant would be limited to one or a handful of larger pharmaceutical companies and research firms.

And the idea that the ability to grow or study Cannabis would be granted to a research firm is pretty unlikely. More likely would be the idea of one or a couple large pharmaceutical companies being given exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the plant. The reason any research-exclusive firms would be unlikely to be given access is that the CSA was created purely for the purpose of creating a closed manufacturing and distribution system for all substances. So any research that would be conducted would be done with the intention of creating the fastest return on investment, effectively negating the entire purpose behind true scientific research.

This is why re-scheduling has taken a back seat to the idea of completely de-scheduling Cannabis. Because the knowledge of how to grow this plant is so ubiquitous, and the ideal growing environment is really not limited either longitudinally or latitudinally across climate zones, it would be nearly impossible to restrict its growth in any way.

The only realistic way to move research forward is to completely dismantle the Controlled Substances Act and replace it with something better. If that sounds crazy, it’s not. The entire system was put into place to streamline production and allow a tighter grip on potential profits from pharmaceutical substances that may or may not benefit the public. It’s outdated and its process for categorization is somewhat arbitrary.

Now of course, this is much easier said than done. It would take a massive collective effort on behalf of congress to move forward with any framework for an undertaking of this scale. But the CSA was rushed to market because the Tax Act was unconstitutional. And while the CSA may not be considered unconstitutional; the idea that the agency in charge of enforcing this law is also in charge of deciding on the potential for research for the distribution and use of the very substances it enforces is absolutely laughable.

It’s going to be an endeavor, but this is the brush in front of us. We can either sit down and give up, or we can move forward and carve out a path. Turning back isn’t an option. Stay vigilant out there, we’re all in this together.

Patrick Riddle is the author of this blog and the co-founder of Third day co-op, a non profit that strives to get Cannabis medicine to those who need it most. Check out what they’re doing at

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