The United States government announced that it will spend $3 million to study whether or not cannabidiol (CBD), a marijuana compound, can relieve pain.
Nine research grants announced Thursday are for work on CBD, reports the Associated Press. The federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug, despite medical marijuana being legal in over 30 states including the nation’s capitol.
“The science is lagging behind the public use and interest. We’re doing our best to catch up here,” said Dr. David Shurtleff, deputy director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is funding the projects. THC has been investigated extensively, Shurtleff said, and its potential for addiction and abuse make it unsuitable for treating pain.
Other federal agencies have supported marijuana research, but much of the focus has been on potential harms. Shurtleff said the grants answer the call in a 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, which concluded a lack of marijuana research poses a public health risk.
Another driver is the nation’s opioid addiction crisis, with its roots in overuse of prescription painkillers, notes the AP. The crisis has sparked new scientific interest in marijuana’s pain-easing properties.
Dr. Judith Hellman,