Bipartisan Support Strong for Medical Cannabis Research Bill
WASHINGTON — The House voted 343-75 Monday in favor of bipartisan legislation that will advance research into the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Though scores of Republicans crossed the aisle to support the bill, all 75 of the no votes came from GOP members.
“Outdated laws written during the War on Drugs have put up roadblocks that prevent urgent research needed to better understand the health impact of marijuana,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., one of the lead proponents of the legislation.
“With the Medical Marijuana Research Act, we are taking action to remove those barriers and empower the researchers who will educate us all about the potential benefits and risks of marijuana use. It is high time we modernized our nation’s drug laws, and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
Joining Dingell as co-leads of the legislation were Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Andy Harris, R-Md., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Morgan Griffith, R-Va., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Ed Case, D-Hawaii.
The passage of the bill came just three days after the House voted to remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances.
That legislation would also impose a tax on cannabis sales to fund programs meant to help communities harmed by past policies that cracked down on drug use and distribution.
The latest measure approved by the House would amend the Controlled Substances Act to eliminate considerable red tape for scientists seeking to conduct medical cannabis research.
Specifically, it would establish a new, separate registration process to facilitate research with cannabis for medical purposes; encourage the Food and Drug Administration to reduce the wait time for approval research registration applications; direct the FDA to issue guidelines on the production of cannabis from authorized researchers and manufacturers and ensure all medical cannabis researchers are in compliance with FDA drug development standards.
It would also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that there is a supply of cannabis available for qualified researchers’ use.
Currently, the federal government only allows researchers to use cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi. According to researchers, the marijuana provided by the University of Mississippi more resembles hemp than the medical or recreational cannabis produced by state-licensed providers. This has hindered researchers’ ability to understand the full extent of the medical benefits of cannabis.
At present 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands allow use of cannabis for medical purposes.