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Yet another Obama admin breakthrough on marijuana

When it comes to drugs, the U.S. politics and policy landscape is changing faster than even optimists could have predicted.
Marijuana plants are displayed. (Photo by Anthony Bolante/Reuters)
Marijuana plants are displayed.
After decades of a costly "war on drugs," candidate Barack Obama made clear in 2008 that voters would see a very different approach in his administration. To his credit, President Obama has largely followed through on those campaign promises.
The administration has already taken a progressive approach to marijuana, for example, clearing the way for unprecedented state experimentation. This week, the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim reported on another breakthrough.

The White House took a major step forward on Monday to support research into the medical properties of marijuana, lifting a much-maligned bureaucratic requirement that had long stifled scientific research. By eliminating the Public Health Service review requirement, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), also known as the drug czar's office, will help facilitate research into the drug.

Under the old policy, created in the late '90s, anyone hoping to conduct privately-funded medical marijuana research had to jump through all kinds of laborious, bureaucratic hoops -- which proved to be incredibly, needlessly difficult, even for the most determined scholars.
Yesterday, as the Washington Post added, the obstacles were removed, "effective immediately."
An ONDCP spokesperson said, "The Obama Administration has actively supported scientific research on whether marijuana or its components can be safe and effective medicine. Eliminating the Public Health Service review should help facilitate additional research to advance our understanding of both the adverse effects and potential therapeutic uses for marijuana or its components."
Those waiting for Republican condemnations of the White House's new policy may be surprised. The old system had few defenders, and even some GOP lawmakers were pleased by the administration's new approach. Roll Call reported yesterday:

The Obama administration's decision to streamline medical marijuana research Monday drew praise from Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, one of the more endangered Republicans up in 2016. [...] While senators' positions on medical marijuana are still evolving, Toomey's love for streamlining governmental procedures and cutting duplicative programs is tried and true.

The conservative Pennsylvanian called the new policy a "commonsense effort to cut red tape and help facilitate more research."
All of this, by the way, coincides with the recent unveiling of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana. The bill introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is now up to 11 co-sponsors, including two Republicans.
When it comes to drugs, the U.S. politics and policy landscape is changing faster than even optimists could have predicted.