The National Institutes of Health is wrapping up a two-day conference in Maryland. The event, Marijuana and Cannabinoids: A Neuroscience Research Summit, consists of several speakers from within the various NIH centers (National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, etc). The conference took place on March 22nd and 23rd at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
The fear among the cannabis community is that this federally-hosted summit will not discuss any of the positive research that has been emerging from international institutions over the last two decades. The list of moderators and speakers consists of qualified scientists and researchers, but is absent of doctors who have had direct experience treating patients.
While the summit agenda has several speakers aligned to discuss therapeutic potentials of cannabinoid treatment, there are far more panels and presentations reviewing the negative impact of cannabis on humans. Of course, cannabis is still listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug without any potential for medical benefit. Cannabis Reports currently hosts research links on 365 clinical studies for 99 distinct conditions and diseases.
After looking at the event schedule, it certainly feels possible that the National Institutes of Health has simply developed an agenda to promote the Schedule I classification of cannabis, rather than facilitate an open conversation about cannabinoid medicine.
Topics Being Discussed at the Marijuana and Cannabinoids Summit
The conference first addressed the basics of the endocannabinoid system, including our current understanding of cannabinoids, cannabinoids receptors, and even a glimpse at some therapeutic benefits. Unfortunately, this introductory period is a major extent of any positive cannabis data being presented.
The next speakers discuss cannabinoid harm to the brain, cognitive impairment, psychosis, addiction, and alcohol interactions. The first day is in fact concluded with discussions on therapeutic potential for multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, although one of the presentations is titled Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pediatric Epilepsy: The Hype and the Evidence.
The second day of the summit promises further condition-specific presentations, though only one of the speakers is a doctor with experience working with cannabis patients. Mostly, the remainder of the event centers around strategies for “responsibly” developing medical cannabis programs and policies.
Increasing Cannabis Research in America
One important thing to keep in mind is that the many researchers participating in the Marijuana and Cannabinoids Summit are, at their core, scientists who review data without bias. Still, researchers are only allowed to analyze clinical information, which is distinctly lacking due to a fierce federal chokehold.
There is a major issue at hand that is likely less than a whisper at this event: Can America actually maintain an unbiased understanding of cannabis if the environment for research is controlled by a federal government with proven opposition to cannabis?
At its core, cannabis is stuck in an endless cycle of misinformation. The federal government claims it cannot adjust the scheduling of cannabis without firm scientific evidence of positive medical benefits. However, the only studies that are approved by the federal government focus on the negative effects cannabis can have on people.
By not inviting the most notable cannabis researchers and doctors in our country, the National Institutes of Health failed to create an unbiased space for discussion, leaving many feeling as if this symposium was simply government-sponsored rhetoric being presented as empirical and well-rounded science.
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