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Trib editorial: Pa. should lead medical marijuana research

| Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
A leaf of marijuana
Associated Press
A leaf of marijuana

Pennsylvania's medical-marijuana legalization will generate more than new tax revenue. As written, the law opens the door to much-needed medical research.

And where better then the erstwhile Steel City — which today abounds in state-of-the-art medical facilities and research — to base marijuana's clinical investigation and ultimately produce peer-reviewed studies that dispel anecdotal assumptions.

In addition to providing for 12 Pennsylvania grower/processor permits and 27 retail dispensaries, Pennsylvania's law also grants eight permits for clinical research studies — and for good reason. The darkness surrounding medical-marijuana research has been more suitable for growing mushrooms than for cultivating any hard facts.

Since marijuana is still a Schedule I illegal substance, as determined by the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is listed as having no medical benefits. For years, that classification has chilled scientific investigation. And researchers feared that medical marijuana's investigation could jeopardize future federal funding.

As Paul Armentano, deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has pointed out, “(M)arijuana policy in this country has largely been driven by rhetoric and emotion, not science and evidence.”

Earlier this year, the nonprofit National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found “conclusive or substantial evidence” of marijuana's effective treatment of pain, nausea, vomiting and multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms.

There is considerably more room for study. Pennsylvania, in general, and Pittsburgh's renowned medical complex, specifically, should seize the opportunity to lead the nation in medical marijuana research.

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