Starting July 6, the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) will hold its 21st annual symposium in St. Charles, Ill., just outside of Chicago. Notably, this year's symposium is sponsored by an array of pharmaceutical companies, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and ElSohly Laboratories of Oxford, Miss., the federal government's only licensed source of research-grade cannabis.
The symposium will also feature presentations by four members of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Board of the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA)—Dr. William Courtney, Dr. Jeff Hergenrather, Jahan Marcu and Dr. Amanda Reiman.
"This symposium and its sponsors shows that medical cannabis is a valid medication that has been recognized and studied by scientists right under our noses," said Steph Sherer, ASA's executive director. "Meanwhile, the federal government continues its antiquated, political campaign to undermine the ability of millions of patients to safely and legally obtain their medication."
Sherer highlights a presentation by Temple University doctoral student, ASA advisory board member, and cannabinoid researcher Jahan Marcu, focusing on research around cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Marcu recently published findings in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics on a study showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with certain compounds found in the cannabis plant.
Dr. Amanda Reiman will be presenting on dispensary-based research and models for patient access to whole-plant medicine. Reiman, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, is currently a medical cannabis researcher who regularly presents at ICRS and other related conferences. Reiman's research on the impact of localized medical marijuana distribution on patients is particularly relevant given the federal effort to undermine the regulation of such facilities.
"The federal government cannot both support medical marijuana and undermine its legal implementation," said Sherer. "This contradictory policy must end." The government has multiple options currently available, not the least of which is a nine-year-old petition to reclassify cannabis now pending before the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as Congressional legislation recently introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), HR 1983, which also calls for rescheduling cannabis from its position as a dangerous drug with no medical value. (ASA, July 5)