DEA to make it easier for researchers to obtain marijuana

The US might soon enter into a new era of medicine, after the Drug Enforcement Administration yesterday said it would make it  easier for researchers and private companies to grow or obtain marijuana for research.

According to commentators, the move opened the door to broader university research of the active chemicals cannabinoids in marijuana. The cannabinoids are known to mirror chemicals produced by the human body, that regulate everything from mood to appetite to sleep, and researchers had long been curious about how they could be deployed medically.

Additionally, the DEA said yesterday that private companies working on new drug development would be able to apply to grow marijuana, meaning that, for the first time in generations, for-profit companies could develop marijuana-based medicines in the US with the federal government's approval.

According to Robert Sievers, professor of chemistry, University of Colorado, who studies cannabinoids. ''If things work as they should, this will be the first day of a cannabinoid pharmaceutical industry.''

However, by deciding to retain marijuana in the most restricted class of controlled substances, the DEA left significant hurdles in place for researchers hoping to study cannabis, which has led some scientists to question how much actually would change.

Meanwhile, according to commentators,  marijuana being a Schedule I substance (meaning that by definition it had "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse"), there were significant hurdles to in the way of its use for research.

Potential researchers typically had to approach the DEA first, as it granted the license to begin scientific research. Even if a license was granted, to study a Schedule I substance, institutions needed to have heavy-duty safes and high-grade security systems installed, which could be expensive.