US Government Prohibits Funding for Marijuana


Dec. 1 2019, Published 7:30 p.m. ET

In a recent update on the standoff between state and federal government, the US government cut federal grants for treatments using medical marijuana. This move by the federal government goes against the states that legalized marijuana for medical conditions without significant scientific evidence. This is especially true for the states that allow marijuana treatment for opioid addiction.

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Why did the government do this?

Marijuana is still illegal under Schedule 1 substance of federal officials. However, 33 states have already legalized medical marijuana. Also, 12 states legalized recreational use. The federal government’s new update applies to two main grants for opioid addiction treatment and another grant that encourages state attempts to treat drug and alcohol addiction.

The assistant secretary of health and human services for mental health and substance abuse made a statement on the matter. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz said, “We felt that it was time to make it clear we did not want individuals receiving funds for treatment services to be exposed to marijuana and somehow given the impression that it’s a treatment.”
This restriction is mainly to stop the usage of grant money to buy marijuana directly or indirectly. Also, this rule refers to the treatment of mental health disorders with marijuana. However, the rule does not apply for medical marijuana research grants from other federal agencies.

Scope of the restriction

The states have the authority to legalize and decide the qualifying illness for marijuana medicines. Most of the states allow marijuana use for patients with chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. Both the illness has to have sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of medical marijuana.
Some states allow medical marijuana use for conditions without sufficient scientific evidence. Some of these diseases include anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, these uses of medicinal marijuana are based on anecdotal evidence and reviews of drug users.
One such condition without scientific evidence is treating opioid addiction. Marijuana’s effect on opioid addiction can be studied only based on the reviews of the patients. However, this study cannot be evidence to prove the cause and effect of medical marijuana.

Pennsylvanians can treat opioid addiction with cannabis

McCance-Katz suggested doctors document their attempts to push patients to stop using medical marijuana. If not, addiction treatment programs can lose their grant money.
Legalizing medical marijuana for opioid addiction started quite recently. Pennsylvania was the first US state to do this in 2018. In line with this restriction, Governor Tom Wolf appointed eight universities to research the use of marijuana for some of the medical conditions.
Rachel Kostelac, a spokeswoman for the department of drug and alcohol programs in Pennsylvania, said, “It is too early to tell if the new federal rule will affect care, But we will continue to monitor to ensure individuals are receiving appropriate treatment to combat the opioid epidemic.”

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