FDA supports marijuana clinical trials

The Food and Drug Administration says it supports clinical trials to determine whether marijuana is safe and effective to treat certain diseases.

In a post on its agency website, the FDA said Friday it has not approved marijuana for general medical use but supports research into the health benefits of the drug.

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“Although the FDA has not approved any drug product containing or derived from botanical marijuana, the FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders,” the agency said.

The FDA says it has approved trials for medical marijuana and has been in contact with states where medical marijuana is not legal but state authorities are interested in conducting trials to ensure they do not break federal laws.

Those states include Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania.

“FDA continues to believe that the drug approval process represents the best way to ensure that safe and effective new medicines from marijuana are available as soon as possible for the largest numbers of patients,” said Doug Throckmorton, a deputy director at the FDA during a Friday at a hearing of the House Oversight subcommittee on government operations.

The agency says it works with healthcare providers to allow patients with serious conditions who lack other options to have access to medical marijuana, but warns “the lack of FDA approval and oversight means that the purity and potency of the drug may vary considerably.”