Just in case you forgot, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reminding everyone that marijuana is still a federally prohibited substance in America. Yesterday, the FDA issued warning letters to companies marketing marijuana as a treatment for cancer.

Although 30 states plus Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, the feds still classify cannabis as a substance that has no medicinal value and is as dangerous as heroin. So when the FDA caught wind of companies advertising the cannabis-extract cannabidiol CBD as a cure for cancer, they quickly took action. According to their letter, these companies were making claims like, 

  • “CBD … [has] anti-proliferative properties that inhibit cell division and growth in certain types of cancer, not allowing the tumor to grow.”
  • “Non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) may be effective in treating tumors from cancer – including breast cancer.”
  • “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells.”

None of those statements have been scientifically proven, so the FDA has a legal right to take action. But they also have a responsibility to look into the claims that have some scientific backing. No researchers are suggesting that cannabis makes cancer cells commit suicide, but recent studies have suggested that CBD could make tumors shrink or even disappear altogether. However, scientists need to test those findings in order to prove that the results are consistent. And that's difficult to do right now because of all the red tape obstructing researchers.

"We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation," Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R) said last September. "Under current law, those who want to complete research on the benefits of medical marijuana must engage in a complex application process and interact with several federal agencies. These regulatory acrobatics can take researchers over a year, if not more, to complete. And the longer researchers have to wait, the longer patients have to suffer."

That's why Senator Hatch has introduced a bill designed to loosen those restrictions. And it's getting support from both sides of the aisle in Congress as well as from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the same guy who once said "good people don't smoke marijuana."

So while writing letters to those cannabis businesses, the FDA should also pen a few notes to lawmakers and encourage them to pass Hatch's bill so we can finally understand the health effects of cannabis. Because right now, the falsest claim being made about marijuana is coming from a government that still classifies cannabis as a drug that's as dangerous as heroin and has no medicinal value whatsoever.