For First Time in Two Decades, DEA Approves Study on Medical Marijuana for People With HIV
A new study on the medical uses of marijuana in people with HIV has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is set to begin early next year, the New York Times reports. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego will examine whether marijuana can relieve peripheral neuropathy, a pain in the hands and feet that can affect people with HIV. Meanwhile, scientists at the University of California-San Francisco are reportedly close to receiving DEA approval for another study addressing the same condition. In the studies, patients will receive either marijuana cigarettes or placebo cigarettes, which do not contain the active ingredients of marijuana. All experiments involving marijuana must be approved by the DEA and several other federal agencies. The New York Times reports that experiments involving marijuana have "never been prohibited," but the new experiments mark the first time in nearly two decades that the government has approved such research. Paul Armentano, a spokesperson for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said that the approval of the research signals the end of "a two-decade-long federal de facto prohibition on medical research on marijuana." Terry Woodworth, deputy director for diversionary control at the DEA, said that marijuana research is now receiving funding because scientists and the agencies that finance research have "changed their attitudes about the value" of such experiments. In addition to the study on people with HIV, the DEA also approved an experiment examining whether marijuana can reduce muscle pain and rigidity in people with multiple sclerosis. In addition, eight other marijuana studies are moving through state and federal agencies seeking approval. All of the approved and proposed studies are scheduled to be conducted in California and to be financed by the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (Hilts, New York Times, 12/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.