Dr. Yasmin Hurd is the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience and the Director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York. In other words, she is one of the world’s top minds on addiction and she has been dissecting brains for a long time to understand why addiction happens and why relapses are so common.

With 116 people dying per day of drug overdoses, she is basically panicked to find answers and the closest she has come to a solution is cannabidiol or CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. The problem is that since Dr. Hurd is a professional scientist she can only access marijuana after jumping through some major hoops set by the DEA since marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug.

Cannabidiol, abbreviated CBD, is a molecular compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis is not a challenging plant to grow or cultivate relative to many other plants, and there is an abundance of it. However, it is also a Schedule 1 drug which means the United States federal government has classified it as being as addictive as heroin and having no medical value. In order to research cannabis, Dr. Hurd had to wait years for a license from the DEA just to get her hands on some of the plant legally. She must keep any cannabis at her lab in a thumb print gun safe and any human patients that she studies must come into her lab while a DEA licensed researcher is present. It makes studying the effects of cannabidiol on the human brain and how it may be able to help prevent relapses nearly impossible.

“Our hands are tied even though cannabidiol is not addictive,” Hurd said.

She is stymied by the senselessness of the federal government’s over-the-top restrictions on marijuana research, as are many other professional scientists, but even more by its carelessness towards addiction. The government will rush to combat other epidemics such as the Zika Virus or Influenza, but neither contagion is as deadly as drug addiction which claimed an estimated 63,600 lives in 2016. The issue is more about an apparent government bias against addiction versus other epidemics that see much more federal attention placed on them when they flare up. Restrictions on analyzing and testing a simple molecular compound like cannabidiol, which is suspected to be a potential aid in battling addiction, simply makes the challenge that much more difficult.

Its amazing to think that the federal government is as biased against opioid addiction as it is against marijuana. How can the federal government rank one killing epidemic above any others?

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