Pennsylvania To Lead Nation In Medical Marijuana Research

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Schoonover

Although the United States government has made it difficult for the scientific community to research the medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant, one state plans to learn more about the therapeutic properties of pot on its own.

Pennsylvania is determined to lead the nation in medical marijuana research. The state has already taken a bold leap, sticking its middle finger in the face of Uncle Sam’s bureaucratic labyrinth of red tape when it comes to examining Schedule I drugs, to become a driving force behind the discovery of how the cannabis plant can benefit the masses in the realm of safe and effective medicine.

It was back in March when Pennsylvania officials hashed out a program to allow medical schools throughout the state to get involved with marijuana research. This week, state powers awarded eight applicants, including the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, with the green light to learn more about the plant’s ability to treat various conditions.

So far, no other state has opened up shop for cannabis research in the way that Pennsylvania has.

“It is important to note that Pennsylvania is the first and only state in the country to institute such a program, and we believe that the research that will be conducted by the School of Medicine in collaboration with UPMC will be of great importance in determining the safety, efficacy and effectiveness of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases,” Pitt officials said.

Other schools awarded this high honor include Drexel University College of Medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Governor Tom Wolf, who signed the state medical marijuana program into law two years ago, believes Pennsylvania’s dedication to cannabis research will eventually help the entire nation.

“Today, medical research is so limited by the federal government that only a few doctors can even have access to medical marijuana. Pennsylvania’s premiere medical schools will be able to help shape the future of treatment for patients who are in desperate need not just here, but across the country,” he said in a statement.

The beauty of the state’s research program is none of the schools will have to rely on the federal government to supply them with marijuana. Pennsylvania is completely bypassing federal controls. Each school will simply work in conjunction with a state-licensed grower to produce the weed needed for research purposes and then distribute it to study participants accordingly.

Pennsylvania law, however, does not allow researchers to experiment with smokeable forms of marijuana, but edibles and vaporizers will be permitted.

Not everyone is pleased with this monumental push to bring medical marijuana into the mainstream. Last month, six growers and nine dispensaries filed a lawsuit in hopes of putting the kibosh on the research program. The companies were concerned that it would “flood the market with medical marijuana and undercut their businesses.” The lawsuit was eventually tossed out of court.

Pennsylvania leaders said the state would become an innovator in cannabis research once it legalized medical marijuana. Looks like they are making good on their promise.

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