Half of money spent on cannabis research focuses on potential harms of plant

Half of the money spent on cannabis research in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom is directed toward exploring the potential dangers of marijuana use, according to new analysis. 

Behind the analysis is medical research consultant Jim Hudson, who compiled data from publicly available grant databases. After looking at the data, Hudson classified the grants into five categories based on research topic: the harms of marijuana, the human body’s endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, social and political issues, and medicinal use. 

According to Hudson’s analysis, $1.56 billion has been spent on cannabis research between 2000 and 2018 in the U.S., Canada and the U.K,, about a half of which was directed toward researching the harmful effects of pot. 

The analysis also revealed the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as the single largest funder of marijuana research in the U.S., having provided over $1 billion to researchers between 2000 and 2018.  

“The government’s budget is a political statement about what we value as a society. The fact that most of the cannabis money is going to drug abuse and probably to cannabis use disorder versus medical purposes—that says something,” cannabis policy researcher at Pennsylvania State University Daniel Mallinson told Science Magazine of the analysis.  

Unlike the U.S., in Canada, where recreational pot has been legal for two years, the majority of funding in cannabis research has placed an emphasis on the endocannabinoid system. 

Researchers in the U.S. have long struggled with studying marijuana due to its still-illegal status at the federal level. The only authorized source for providing cannabis for research purposes in the U.S. has for decades been the University of Mississippi.

However, researchers have described cannabis from the sole government-licensed facility as “sub-par” and “not suited for clinical trials.”  

Study reveals overwhelming preference among cannabis consumers for flower 

A different study released this week revealed a majority of cannabis consumers in the U.S. prefer using flower over concentrates. 

Conducted by researchers at the Arizona State University, the survey looked at 574 participants across the U.S. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents picked herbal cannabis as their “preferred type” of marijuana. 

Participants explained their preference for flower based on their experiences of concentrates more likely resulting in unwanted side-effects such as paranoia. Moreover, respondents said they feel flower is more suited for pain relief.

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