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    Medical Marijuana Backers Slam New Federal Research Guidelines

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    Although the Institute of Medicine suggested earlier this year -- in a landmark report done for the White House -- that there was value in granting individual waivers to research, federal drug officials dispute the finding.

    "According to the Institute of Medicine, smoked marijuana isn't going to be a medicine. So I think what we're looking at is: how do we investigate other chemical compounds that are in smoked marijuana that might have modest potential benefit?" Barry McCaffrey, director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy, tells WebMD.

    Alan Leshner, PhD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tells WebMD that four or five federally sponsored studies of medical marijuana are currently underway. "It's an attempt to expand research; but research, as opposed to what some other people want, is ... just another vehicle to distribute marijuana more readily," Leshner says.

    Another beef the marijuana protestors have with the new regulations has to do with guidelines that detractors say "would still place a much greater burden on medicinal marijuana researchers than on drug companies that develop and study newly synthesized pharmaceuticals." The gripe is that marijuana protocols would face additional bureaucratic hoops in the form of a special HHS review panel.

    According to neurologist Dennis Petro, MD, "There's actually no incentive for a pharmaceutical company today to do this research, because of these guidelines."

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