The White House this week removed a major hurdle for marijuana researchers, the loathed Public Health Service (PHS) Review.

The review meant that each individual request to use pot for legitimate university research had to pass a painstaking federal analysis. This slowed the research process down significantly and made pot even harder for academics to probe than cocaine and heroin.

The requirement was lifted by the Obama administration after a bipartisan group of lawmakers called for the action.

The group Marijuana Majority said in a statement that “a major federal roadblock to research on marijuana’s medical benefits has been lifted.”

The Department of Health and Human Services says such review “is no longer necessary to support the conduct of scientifically sound studies into the potential therapeutic uses of marijuana.”

Bill Piper, Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs, said:

This is progress, but the White House should also end the NIDA’s unique monopoly on marijuana production, and allow private entities to grow marijuana, thus facilitating even more important research.

Indeed, researchers will still find a bottleneck at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the only place where they can legally obtain cannabis, grown by the feds in Mississippi, for research.

Meanwhile, Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority said:

The president has often said that drug policy should be dictated by unimpeded science instead of ideology, and it’s great to see the Obama administration finally starting to take some real action to back that up. But there’s more to be done. The next step should be moving marijuana out of Schedule I to a more appropriate category, which the administration can do without any further Congressional action. Given what the president and surgeon general have already said publicly about marijuana’s relative harms and medical uses, it’s completely inappropriate for it to remain in a schedule that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse and no therapeutic value. Hopefully today’s action is a sign of more to come.

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