A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday to remove barriers to conducting research on marijuana. The bill will allow scientists to access cannabis from state-legal dispensaries.
The Medical Marijuana Research Act, filed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR] and Rep. Andy Harris [R-MD] would ease the process by which researchers apply for approval to study cannabis and it would place deadlines on federal agencies to consider the applications in a timely manner.
“This legislation would remove barriers for research into cannabis and facilitate access to an increased supply of higher quality medical-grade cannabis for research purposes,” said Blumenauer.
“Congress is hopelessly behind the American people on cannabis, and the quality of our research shows why that is an urgent problem,” Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment. “Despite the fact that 99 percent of Americans live in a state that has legalized some form of cannabis, federal law is still hamstringing researchers’ ability to study the full range of health benefits offered by cannabis, and to learn more about the products readily available to consumers.”
Scientists ‘Jumping Through The Hoops’
“Because cannabis is a Schedule I substance, researchers must jump through hoops and comply with onerous requirements just to do basic research on the medical potential of the plant”, Blumenauer said at the House on Thursday.
The Medical Marijuana Research Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to establish a new, separate registration process, specific for marijuana.
Blumenauer explained what the bill would do:
- Streamline the often-duplicative licensure process for researchers seeking to conduct cannabis research;
- Facilitate access to an increased supply of higher quality medical-grade cannabis for research purposes;
- Ensure that research on cannabis and other potentially beneficial marijuana-derived substances is based on sound science;
- Reduce the regulatory barriers associated with marijuana research.
The legislation requires the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to license outside of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to ensure that there is an adequate supply of cannabis products to study.
Representatives Debbie Dingell [D-MI], Steve Cohen [D-TN] Morgan H. Griffith [R-VA], Barbara Lee [D-CA], and Ed Case [D-HI-1], co-sponsored the bill.