Federal health agency launches RFI for marijuana research

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The National Institutes of Health want to take a deep dive into cannabis research

An RFI (Request for Information) is a formal process for gathering information. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a major federal agency that leads the country’s health policies, has opted for this mechanism to obtain more details about barriers to marijuana research, including Schedule I and limited access to strains. It has been several years since cannabis research has become a major focus, which has led the federal government to seek a more in-depth analysis of the issue.

Thousands of years of documented use of cannabis for health benefits have passed, which is why the leading federal health agency wants to get to work to identify barriers to marijuana research. The idea is to “strengthen the scientific evidence” of the plant’s therapeutic potential.

The NIH released an RFI entitled “Investigators’ interests in and barriers to research studies on the health effects of cannabis and its constituents.” Through the document, the federal agency made it clear that at least eight of its agencies are working hand in hand on the new initiative in order to solicit information related to the barriers that research faces today. The information specifically requested relates to limitations on the types of products available for use in clinical trials and the current Schedule I status of marijuana.

“Cannabis has been used medicinally for over 3,000 years,” NIH said. “Recently, there has been growing interest from health care providers and the public in the potential medicinal properties of cannabis-related products.”

Although cannabinoid-based therapies for specific conditions have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NIH knows that most states have adopted various medical cannabis programs to treat different conditions. Occasionally, it is said that there is inadequate scientific research to support the benefit of its intended use” in those states.

“As a result, there is a need to strengthen the scientific evidence underlying the clinical impact and potential harms of cannabis products for specific diseases and conditions,” the notice says. “Some researchers have reported barriers that hinder an expansion of research.”