Despite the massive growth and mainstream acceptance of medical cannabis over the last twenty years or so, we still have a somewhat limited understanding of the science of it. We know it works, but due to the continued federal illegality of cannabis thanks to it’s unscientific and outdated Schedule 1 classification, researchers are just limited in what they can do in their labs.
Thankfully, however, as public and legislative opinions on cannabis change, so do the opportunities for researchers to learn more about how cannabis can help patients. A shining example of those changes sits in the Keystone State.
Upcoming Cannabis Research in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Health took an unprecedented step forward when it comes to medical cannabis research, approving the nation’s first research-based organization to cultivate and study medical cannabis.
The facility, called Organic Remedies and based in Carlisle, is set to team up with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) to conduct longitudinal studies focused on chronic pain, opioid use disorder, the overall impact of medical cannabis on quality of life, and trends in usage.
The first study they’ll begin work on is focused on the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis, how effectively they treat symptoms, and overall how effective it is at treating and managing the 23 approved medical cannabis conditions in the state.
“Research on the effectiveness of cannabis as a therapeutic option is long overdue,” said Katherine Galluzzi, DO, CMD, FACOFP (Dist.), medical director of the PCOM Medicinal Cannabis Research Center. “The research team at PCOM has undertaken an in-depth look at the ways in which medical cannabis may improve the lives of patients, both physically and psychologically. This emerging area of treatment continues to hold enormous promise, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this important work with Organic Remedies.”
Why is Research into Medical Cannabis Important?
While this might not seem like a big deal, this new project is actually very important. While other nations, like Israel, have poured a massive amount of funding and effort into medical cannabis research, and powerful global international bodies like the United Nations have acknowledged the healing potential of medical cannabis, the U.S. federal government simply won’t.
In fact, according to the FDA themselves, they have “not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition.” The FDA has only approved a handful of cannabis-derived drugs for an incredibly limited selection of conditions. They hold firm on this position because “there has been no FDA review of data from rigorous clinical trials to support that these unapproved products are safe and efficacious for the various therapeutic uses for which they are being used.”
So, the FDA is saying there’s not enough research to say conclusively whether or not cannabis has the potential as medicine. Okay, so all we need is some studies to be able to give to the FDA for review, right? This should be an easy fix.
Not so fast, unfortunately. We don’t have that rich body of research the FDA is looking for because the federal government simply wouldn’t allow for research to happen. For decades any type of cannabis-related research was stonewalled and downplayed due to Reefer Madness-era prohibition and the outdated Schedule 1 classification. It’s a Catch-22 situation.
Only recently have we seen the federal government ease up on the restrictions of cannabis, with the FDA approving a large study on commercial CBD, the House passing a massive, yet budget-friendly cannabis research bill, and a set of interesting and promising studies on the role of cannabis in treating chronic pain.
Why Cannabis Research in 2021 is Exciting
As we’ve covered here at Leafwell, there’s some incredibly promising cannabis research happening in 2021 and medical patients are set to benefit directly from it. Organic Remedies, for example, will be using what they learn from their studies to create products and cannabis strains that work best for medical patients or treat a specific ailment most effectively.
“We are truly excited to be able to offer our unique brand of patient-focused care to more patients in other areas of the state. We have built a strong reputation in south-central Pennsylvania, and now we can take our model of successful patient care to many others. At the same time, we will soon be offering a premium product line. It is an exciting time for Organic Remedies, and our passionate team of healthcare professionals is looking forward to helping many more patients,” said Organic Remedies President Eric Hauser.
When it comes to cannabis, one of the most important steps in making progress is setting a progressive standard. California did so way back in 1996, becoming the first state to acknowledge the potential of cannabis as medicine and look at how far we’ve come since then.
Organic Remedies might be the first of its kind in the country in terms of research products, but judging by the shifts in public support over the last few decades and the massive money-making potential of cannabis, we think there will be similar projects coming in even more states very, very soon.