International perspectives on US marijuana research

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Research in the US has a lot of money behind it, but is slow and unsophisticated

The U.S. has always been one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, always on the forefront of innovation and discovery. However, the country is beginning to fall behind in a number of areas for reasons that are still not completely clear and where it has the ability to help the most, it is falling the furthest. Everyone is calling for more and better marijuana research and, even though it has the funds to lead the charge, the US is lacking in methodology and sophistication compared to other countries.

The US has not been taking the responsible role in developing major cannabis research programs. One of the most notable examples is with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has had the legal authority to allow additional cannabis research facilities for the past several years, but has yet to authorize any of the more than 200 license applications it has received.

Israel and Italy have developed better programs than those in the U.S. Dr. Yu-fung Lin, who teaches physiology and membrane biology at University of California Davis, created her own coursework on cannabis and explains that “building coursework concerning chemicals found in the plant, the medical chemistry of THC and cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system requires heavy reliance on European studies.”

The US government states that it cannot, in good faith, legalize marijuana and cannabis further without better research. However, it hasn’t been willing to open the legal channels to allow the necessary research, creating a conundrum that is stifling the industry. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an organic chemist and professor of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – and also the “father of cannabis research” – said it best when he said that the “lack of clinical work in the US is really a shame.”