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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

House, Senate Bills Aim to Remove Barriers to Marijuana Research

-Bipartisan, Bicameral Medical Marijuana Research Legislation Introduced in House and Senate-

This week, Congressmen Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Sam Farr (D-CA-20) will be introducing the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. This bill heeds the calls of the medical research community to address the burdensome processes that currently impede legitimate medical research on marijuana. This bill is a bipartisan and bicameral solution that removes barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are introducing a similar bill in the Senate.

“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community. Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research. We need empirical scientific evidence to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits and, if so, how it would be used most effectively. This legislation is crucial to that effort, because it removes the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from rigorously studying medical marijuana,” said Dr. Harris.

“Despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, federal policy is blocking science. It’s outrageous,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “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. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”

“There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits, but patients, doctors, pharmacists, and policymakers must have more to rely on than anecdotal evidence,” said Congressman Griffith. “Removing the barriers that prevent further research on marijuana’s medicinal benefits and possible side effects is the right thing to do, plain and simple.”

“This bill is about helping people. As more states pass their own medical marijuana laws, it’s time for Congress to reexamine federal policy. This bill does just that by supporting research so policy decisions about the role of medical marijuana are based on science and facts instead of rhetoric,” said Congressman Farr.

The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016 addresses two major barriers currently faced by researchers who wish to conduct legitimate medical research with marijuana, a Schedule I drug. First, it creates a new, less cumbersome registration process specifically for marijuana, reducing approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review. Second, once researchers have been approved to conduct this research, this bill makes it easier for those researchers to obtain the marijuana they need for their studies through reforms in both production and distribution regulations. To this end, the bill also allows for the private manufacturing and distribution of marijuana solely for research purposes. Currently, the only marijuana available to be used in research legally comes from a single contract the National Institute on Drug Abuse holds with the University of Mississippi.


Anonymous said...

The drug policy in this case WAS meant to stand in the way of legitimate research; it was meant to curtail it altogether. No apologies necessary, Andy, just fix it.

Anonymous said...

2:18 AM - Thank for writing what I was thinking (although I think an apology from Rep. Harris is more than necessary - he has consistently voted against any changes to our drug policies, until now.)

Anonymous said...

Not far enough, Harris. Your State has already legalized medical marijuana. Get with the program.

Anonymous said...

How long will this process take in Maryland? Will we be waiting for years for a doctor's prescription, then pay an outrageous fortune because our insurance won't cover it?
DC had the right idea. Legalize under an ounce for possession, allow people to grow their own at home, then leave them alone.

Anonymous said...

Insurance won't cover medical marijuana until the Federal laws are changed. Then maybe.