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While calling full legalization of marijuana "dangerous," Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of SAM, also said that "there are so many things the government could do to offer the seriously ill experimental medications" and help to further marijuana research to potentially unlock its medical potential, without legalizing the plant.
SAM's plan calls for the federal government to end the federal monopoly on marijuana for research purposes by allowing for multiple facilities to grow the plant. Critics of federal policy say the lack of cannabis science in the U.S. has to do in part with the federal stranglehold on marijuana research. There's only one federally legal marijuana garden in the U.S., at the University of Mississippi. The National Institute on Drug Abuse oversees the operation, and it's the only source of marijuana for federally sanctioned studies on the drug.
The plan also seeks the elimination of a Department of Health and Human Services review process.
Currently, marijuana research that is not funded by the government must go through a Public Health Service review -- a process established in 1999 by the federal government after a 1998 Institute of Medicine report called for more scientific research into the medical value of marijuana.
It's a process that no other substance classified by the government as Schedule I is subject to and one that researchers and lawmakers alike have criticized.