Millions of people are experimenting on themselves in the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use. There are now 30 states that permit some form of pot consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2010 more than 14,000 people have been dying annually from overdosing on these prescription painkillers. Doctors for marijuana in Florida have commented for more than a century on the potential for cannabis to substitute for opioid drugs, and several recent studies seem to bolster this hypothesis. Researchers examining public-health records have found evidence that painkiller prescriptions, opioid abuse, and overdose deaths has declined in medical marijuana states. Getting DEA approval for the study took about six months from start to finish, says Newman, the regulatory manager—not including the time spent on renovations, which the university knew they would have to do before they even tried to get DEA approval. There was a ton of paperwork and a minor snag when the university put forth the name of a pharmacist to hold the DEA license and be the person ultimately responsible for safeguarding the marijuana without realizing the agency would only grant the license to a physician. the agency was also considering two petitions to remove marijuana from its Schedule I listing of drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Taking cannabis off that list would loosen some of the restrictions for researchers. Medical marijuana researchers were disappointed, if not entirely surprised by the decision, given the relative lack of research. Restrictions imposed by the DEA make it more difficult to collect the kind of evidence that would convince the DEA to loosen their restrictions. the only product they’re currently allowed to use (though the DEA announced this summer that it plans to allow additional growers to supply pot for research).
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