This Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to expand and expedite scientific research of medical cannabis.
Under the existing regulatory systems, the University of Mississippi is the one and only federally licensed entity permitted to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved studies.
Co-sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenaeur, D-Ore., and Andy Harris, R-Md., the Medical Marijuana Research Act expands access to study the plant to state-legal dispensaries — thereby allowing researchers to better understand the impact of retail products.
“At a time when there are four million registered medical cannabis patients, and many more likely self-medicate, when there are 91 percent of Americans supporting medical cannabis, it’s time to change the system,” Rep. Blumenaeur stated on the House Floor. “Our bill will do precisely that.”
“We don’t tolerate not having the science for other medications,” added Rep. Harris.
With legalization spreading across the country, and cannabis sales soaring to over $15 billion in 2019, these changes in regulation are a necessary step in the right direction.
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano, however, noted them to be long overdue.
In a testimony in the Federal Register, a daily publication for federal agencies, Armentano stated:
“These common-sense regulatory changes are necessary and long overdue. The DEA has proven time and time again that it is not an honest broker when it comes to overseeing the cultivation of research-grade cannabis. Despite promising over four years ago to expand the pool of federal licensees permitted to provide cannabis for clinical research, the agency has steadfastly refused to do so — leaving scientists with woefully inadequate supplies of cannabis and cannabis products available for human studies.”
This is the second piece of cannabis legislation passed by the House this December.
Last Friday, December 4th, the floor voted to pass the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. If approved by the Senate, the bill would remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing cannabis and expunging non-violent convictions.
However, while the House approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act — similar to the MORE Act — it’s unlikely to win approval form the Senate.