WASHINGTON, DC: On July 25, Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017. This bill heeds the calls of the medical research community to address the burdensome processes that currently hinder medical research on marijuana. This bipartisan bill removes barriers inhibiting medical marijuana research.
“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I cannot 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. If we are going to label marijuana as medicine, we need to conduct the same rigorous scientific research on efficacy and safety that every other FDA approved treatment undergoes. This legislation will facilitate that research by removing the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from thoroughly studying medical marijuana,” said Dr. Harris.
“In what world would such a backwards policy make sense? It’s insane,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “We need to stop blocking science and allow for patients to get the information they need to make decisions about their health care. Doctors, patient advocates, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree, and it’s past time the federal government caught up.”
“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.”
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana may have potential medical applications, from utilizing non-psychoactive marijuana to ease the symptoms of epileptic sufferers, or simply to fight nausea for those undergoing cancer treatments,” said Congresswoman Lofgren. “Unfortunately, under the current federal regulatory structure, marijuana researchers are limited by marijuana’s Schedule I classification. Enacting this bill will allow researchers and scientists the flexibility they need to fully study marijuana’s potential medical applications.”
The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017 addresses the major barriers currently faced by researchers who wish to conduct legitimate medical research with marijuana, a Schedule I drug. The bill creates a new, less cumbersome registration process specifically for marijuana research, reducing approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review. This bill makes further reforms to both production and distribution regulations for marijuana, so once a scientist is approved to conduct medical marijuana research, the plant is easier to obtain. To this end, the bill also allows for the private manufacturing and distribution of marijuana solely for research purposes.