The Science and Policy of Marijuana

Science and policy are often in tension with one another, but in the case of cannabis, as medicinal or recreational marijuana, science seems to be playing catch-up.

“Cannabis was scheduled [made illegal] in the absence of science,” and now is being legalized in some areas, still in the near-absence of science, said J. Michael Bostwick, a practicing psychiatrist and a senior associate dean at Mayo Medical School. In 1970, when Congress classified cannabis as Schedule 1 (“drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”), scientists did not know which neuronal receptors it activated or what exactly in the substance was causing which effects.

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NIDA’s Nora Volkow and DC council member David Grosso listen to psychiatrist J. Michael Bostwick answer a question from the audience at AAAS.

More than four decades later (and 5,000 years since people first started using it as pain reliever), we still don’t know much more of the botanical substance’s potential as a medicine, because its Schedule 1 status means US researchers have to jump through hoops at several different agencies to get access to the legal federal supply. That’s just the start, science-wise: As with any plant, cannabis varies widely in quality, strength, and in what other compounds are bound within the plant, so research—and comparing previous studies in the US and elsewhere—can be tricky.

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March 30: The Science and Policy of Marijuana

AAAS logoThe American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Dana Foundation are pleased to invite you to the first event of the 2016 series on Neuroscience & Society:

The Science and Policy of Marijuana

5:30 p.m.
March 30, 2016
Reception to Follow

AAAS Headquarters
1200 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC
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National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (January 25-31)

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On Monday, National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week began, sparking local events across the country in an effort to “shatter the myths” about drugs and alcohol, particularly among teens.

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National Recovery Month: Drug and Alcohol Addiction

OBrien_Charles_featThe month of September is dedicated to raising awareness about recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. This month, we interviewed Dana Alliance member Charles O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., who founded the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Addiction Treatment. For more than thirty years, O’Brien has worked to improve addiction treatment and has made many breakthroughs regarding the clinical aspects of addiction and the neurobiology of relapse.

In your opinion, what is the most common misconception about drug and alcohol addiction?

Most physicians learn very little about addictive disorders in medical school or residency. Rather than being considered a disease of the brain, most see it as bad behavior. They don’t know that there are FDA approved medications and that patients do respond to treatment, even though “cures” are rare.

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It’s National #DrugFacts Week!

This week is National Drug Facts Week, “a national health observance for teens to promote local events that use NIDA science to shatter the myths about drugs.” Be sure to check out the dedicated website to find events in your area, take the National Dug IQ Challenge, and find out how different drugs affect the brain and body.

There’s also a Chat Day on Friday, January 30, which is “an annual live online chat held between high school students and NIDA scientists… Students from around the country ask the questions they most want the answers to about drugs and drug abuse, including drug effects, how to help friends or family that are abusing drugs, and what causes addiction.” Transcripts for previous years’ chats are available online.

And speaking of awareness, our own Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is coming up fast! March 16-22 find events around the world dedicated to the brain, and help us celebrate 20 years of brain awareness outreach.

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