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An obscure California law is blocking UCLA, Stanford from studying drugs

California has long been a leader in studying drugs like psychedelics and cannabis. Schools like UCSF and UCSD have conducted groundbreaking drug research, and Bay Area technology companies are actively developing new psychedelic therapies.

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But that leadership position is being put in jeopardy, thanks to an obscure government body that almost nobody has ever heard of.

The Research Advisory Panel of California, which is legally required to sign off on nearly every clinical trial on drugs in the state, has not met for nearly six months, delaying the review of “dozens” of new California studies on drugs including LSD and cannabis, according to “independent newsletter and community” Psychedelic Alpha.

The panel canceled its last two meetings of 2023 and hasn’t convened since July of last year, according to its website. The agenda from the last canceled meeting listed 16 studies awaiting review, including four from UCSF, three from UCLA and one from Stanford University. 

Studies that go in front of the state panel have already been approved by the appropriate federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Despite having the federal green light, though, the studies will remain in limbo until the state’s panel meets and reviews them.

A spokesperson for California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who oversees the panel’s work, did not specifically explain why the group canceled its final meetings of 2023, but said in an emailed statement to SFGATE that the meetings were canceled because of a “procedural issue” related to California’s open meetings law, and said the state government is working on a “legislative solution” that it hopes will resolve the issue by 2024. 


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