Article by Associated Press via Denver Post
In a rare move, the U.S. government has approved the importation of marijuana extracts from Canada for a clinical trial, highlighting a new avenue for American researchers who have long had trouble obtaining the drug for medical studies.
The University of California San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research announced Tuesday the Drug Enforcement Administration has OK’d its plans to import capsules containing two key cannabis compounds — CBD and THC — from British Columbia-based Tilray Inc. to study their effectiveness in treating tremors that afflict millions of people, especially those older than 65.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, making it impossible for researchers to simply obtain forms of the drug from one of the many medical marijuana programs approved by individual states — even a state with a pot culture as prevalent as California’s.
Instead, federal law dictates that researchers typically must obtain any weed for clinical trials through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which uses cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi. Scientists have long complained about the difficulty of obtaining that marijuana, as well as its limited quality, variety and usefulness for clinical research.
The University of California San Diego researchers said they needed marijuana extracts in capsule form because it’s easier to monitor the doses that patients receive, compared to having patients smoke or vaporize it. They also believed many older patients would be reluctant to participate in the study if they had to inhale the drug, according to Dr. Fatta Nahab, a UCSD neurologist and the tremor study’s principal investigator.