Feds: No Raids on Medical Marijuana

Congress's new 2015 budget bill effectively lifts the federal ban on medical marijuana. A little-noticed section of the bill bars the federal government from using federal funds to prevent the "distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana" in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Congress’s new 2015 budget bill effectively lifts the federal ban on medical marijuana. A little-noticed section of the bill bars the federal government from using federal funds to prevent the “distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana" in states where medical marijuana is legal.

That should eventually mean it will be far easier for researchers to conduct scientific studies without fear of being prosecuted under federal drug laws—though the federal Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug.

The states that allow medical marijuana are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Washington,g DC also allows its medical use.

There is a shortage of reliable studies on whether medical marijuana is effective. The lifting of the ban will likely change that, as well as spur research into new ways cannabis could be used.

In Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana is also legal, the Associated Press reports that the Colorado Board of Health today awarded more than $8 million in state funds for medical marijuana research.

Among the projects are studies on whether marijuana is an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, pain relief for pediatric brain tumor patients, seizure prevention in pediatric epilepsy, and whether cannabis is better than oxycodone for pain relief.

Despite parents’ belief that a form of cannabis reduces seizures, researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado on Dec. 8 reported that their studies have shown that is not the case. Families that had moved to the state so their children could have access to the treatment were far more likely than families who already lived in the state to report seizure reduction.

The finding points to the need for more scientific studies, said researcher Kevin Chapman, MD, and colleagues reporting at the American Epilepsy Society’s recent annual meeting, held this year in Seattle, WA.

In the Colorado epilepsy studies, participants were required to obtain their own marijuana.