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Federal lawmakers consider expanding medical marijuana research across the country

By: Larissa Scott Posted at 6:22 AM, Apr 21, 2022, and last updated 7:39 AM, Apr 21, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — Currently, there are two different federal bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, that aim to expand medical marijuana research.

“We were one of the very early patients,” said Leslie Ciper.

Her son uses medical marijuana to help with some of his autism symptoms.

“We were kind of on the bleeding edge of how do you use this medicine, so it was very overwhelming. There wasn’t a lot of information. There still isn’t,” said Ciper.

“We are very, very limited in the ability to perform research on medical cannabis in America,” Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

Scientific data researched in the United States on medical marijuana can be hard to come by for patients seeking treatment.

“You get the recommendation, you show up at the dispensary and then you have no idea what these people are talking to you about. You’re not really sure what product you want and it’s very, very confusing,” said Ciper.

“As of right now there is only one particular place in the University of Mississippi where researchers are allowed to get this one particular strain, from what I understand it’s not an overly good strain, in order to do any research on medical cannabis in the country,” said Berger.

“The House bill, it would allow research to be done on any product that’s legal at a dispensary to use that as the product to use. The Senate bill is allowing for universities to grow their own cannabis plants to use in the research,” said Berger.

The legislation would streamline the research process for scientists, making it easier for them to access medical marijuana for more studies to be done in the U.S.

“Really this will give the opportunity for more research to be done so that other doctors can see that this works in terms of their comfort level of recommending it to patients,” said Berger.

“I would like to be able to say to a patient, ‘Hey, this is something for you to consider. Look at this research that shows that it helps a condition like yours,’” he added.

“For me, the research would really be important because I’m having to get my information from places that are not really recommended, from Google or from Facebook pages,” said Ciper.

“When that’s the only information you have, then that’s where you have to go get your information, which is unfortunate,” she added.

Supporters of the legislation said this is about more than just getting information.

“More importantly to figure out what the right dosing is. To figure out if there’s particular strains of the plant that may be more beneficial for a particular medical condition,” said Berger.

“Trying to figure out what is the best starting dose, when do you see clinical improvements, when do you change from using CBD to trying THC because the CBD cannabinoid isn’t really helping and trying to get to a therapeutic dose. It’s very overwhelming,” said Ciper.