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420 with CNW — Marijuana Rescheduling Likely to Reduce Barriers to Research

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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The Biden administration’s move to reclassify cannabis as a less hazardous substance is anticipated to ease some of the limitations on research. However, experts caution that while the change will alleviate certain restrictions, it won’t eliminate all of them. Additionally, it may not necessarily reduce the potential risks associated with cannabis or enhance users’ understanding of those risks.

Currently, cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I substance, indicating it is deemed to have a high abuse potential and no recognized medical value. The proposed shift by the Biden administration aims to move cannabis to Schedule III, acknowledging its medical benefits to some extent.

This adjustment is significant as the Schedule I classification imposes stringent regulations that hinder scientific research on cannabis, despite its increasing availability due to changes in state laws. These regulations encompass various aspects such as reporting, storage and security requirements, governed by entities such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), local authorities and the Institutional Review Board.

Neuroscientist Staci Gruber of Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital draws attention to the onerous procedures that researchers must go through, including registering with the DEA and obtaining federal and state permits to perform studies on cannabis.

According to advocates, reclassifying the drug to Schedule III, alongside drugs such as Tylenol and ketamine, will be a significant change that could affect attitudes and viewpoints on the study of drugs in different categories. Gruber sees this change as particularly beneficial for aspiring researchers who will no longer require a Schedule I license, thus facilitating their entry into the field.

Similarly, Dr. Andrew Monte, associate director of Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety, believes that the reclassification will foster more research on the therapeutic benefits and potential risks of marijuana, thereby enhancing the quality of research outcomes.

However, despite the reclassification, Gruber notes that the availability of marijuana for research purposes may not significantly increase. Historically, researchers were limited to obtaining cannabis from a single source: the University of Mississippi. Although the DEA has started approving additional sources since 2021, the accessibility of these sources remains limited, hindering researchers’ ability to study the products commonly used by patients and consumers.

Moreover, there is a lack of comprehensive information regarding the composition of marijuana products available on the market today. Studies suggest that the current THC levels, the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, are substantially higher than in previous decades, posing greater health risks.

Monte warns against overlooking the health risks associated with cannabis, despite its reclassification. He and his colleagues have observed various adverse effects in individuals, such as intoxication and cyclic vomiting syndrome, as well as psychiatric symptoms, including psychosis, leading to hospital visits. Despite the reclassification, addressing these risks requires ongoing surveillance and research efforts, which the reclassification alone may not fulfill.

When the DEA finally announces its cannabis rescheduling decision, entities such as Astrotech Corp. (NASDAQ: ASTC) could see new opportunities for business as their testing equipment starts attracting more interest from the marijuana research community.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Astrotech Corp. (NASDAQ: ASTC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ASTC

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