Congress introduces bipartisan bill to expand medical marijuana research

A bill introduced on Wednesday by a bipartisan group of House members hopes to remove barriers from allowing research into cannabis, the Marijuana Moment reports.

Known as the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019, the proposed bill would provide a “less cumbersome registration process” for researchers interested in studying marijuana by “reducing approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review,” according to a summary.

The bill has received support from Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Andy Harris (R-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT)

“[Forty-seven] states have legalized some form of cannabis, yet the federal government is still getting in the way of further progress on the potential for research,” Blumenauer said in a press release. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage.

Under the proposed law, researchers would also be able to obtain research-grade cannabis from private manufacturers. This would help immensely, as the only existing federally authorized facility, held at the University of Mississippi, provides strict access to low-quality cannabis that is chemically closer to hemp.

Lawmakers on both sides of cannabis legalization support the bill. Blumenauer has supported the legal cannabis laws in Oregon, while Maryland’s Andy Harris has opposed cannabis reform.

“While we may disagree about the medical value of cannabis and the various state efforts to legalize cannabis, it is beyond dispute that the barriers to cannabis research inhibit this nation’s ability to both thoroughly evaluate the benefits and risks associated with increased cannabis use and craft responsible policy governing such use,” the lawmakers wrote in an op-ed supporting the legislation.

The bill has received support from cannabis advocacy groups as well as the prohibitionist Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

SAM President Kevin Sabet, who has staunchly opposed state efforts to legalize marijuana, said in a statement that the organization hopes “Congress will move swiftly to pass it and reduce barriers to researching marijuana to produce new FDA-approved medicines.”

Oscar Pascual is the editor of Smell the Truth, syndicated on GreenState and SFGATE. Smell The Truth is one of the internet’s most popular destinations for cannabis-related news and culture. This blog is not written or edited by Hearst. The authors are solely responsible for the content.