Viewpoint: Our efforts to learn more about cannabis benefits, risks are hampered by federal research barriers

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Image: Michel Porro

As cannabis researchers, we work in a field whose unknowns could positively or negatively affect the health of millions of Americans. But the U.S. government’s decades-long prohibition of cannabis research forcefully limits what we might learn. 

What most consumers don’t know — because public education on the topic has been absent to date — is the safety of the CBD products they buy. Beyond food and drink, these products are not federally regulated. In Washington state, where we live and work, they also are not held to the same stringent standards set for medical marijuana by the Department of Health.

In fact, recent studies document that the hemp-derived “CBD oil” available in drugstores, coffee shops, and online may contain no CBD at all, or CBD at different concentrations than the labels report.


More research is warranted into all forms of cannabinoids, not just CBD. While THC has detrimental effects if used indiscriminately, it presents immense potential as an analgesic, particularly for chronic pain and for symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

Yet the federal government continues to maintain barriers to research. These barriers harm mainly people who have medical conditions that lack therapies or who, for some reason, cannot access novel CBD-based medicines.

Read full, original post: Cannabidiol confusion: lofty promises and barriers to research

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