The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a new bill expanding access and funding for cannabis research. Titled the Cannabidiol and Marijuana Research Expansion Act, H.R. 8454 aims to establish a new process by which research facilities and manufacturers involved in medical cannabis research will register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Cannabis Research is Imperative
The legislation was introduced last month by Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer. In a press release, Rep. Blumenauer expressed his continued support for decriminalization and legalization of medical marijuana, saying, “Research is a foundational element for cannabis policy. At a time when there are four million registered medical marijuana patients and many more likely to self-medicate, it is crucial that researchers are able to fully study the health benefits of cannabis.”
Added Blumenauer, “For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers obtaining resources and approval to study cannabis. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an important first step to changing that.”
Increased Access to Cannabis Research
Cannabis has historically been difficult, if not impossible, to study – mainly in part to the strict regulations on any research done here in the United States involving marijuana. Researchers have been subject to intense scrutiny by the DEA, with researchers even complaining that the quality of cannabis available for research is sub-par, leading to misleading results.
A similar Senate proposal was voted through last year, with a source telling Marijuana Moment that the Senate is likely to “move quickly.”
It can’t be understated how important the passage of this law could be for countless patients currently suffering from debilitating health conditions without access to medical marijuana. In states where cannabis is highly criminalized, many with legitimate medical reasons for using cannabis are unable to do so and are forced to rely on pharmaceutical medications. Increased access for researchers will provide evidence for cannabis’ utility in many more health conditions and, eventually, allow for greater numbers of patients to access the medical marijuana program.
While many support the efforts toward increased research, others are more concerned with narrowing down the list of conditions that medical marijuana has been proven to help with. In response to the bill’s passage in the U.S. House, said Congressman Harris, “While there is evidence to suggest that medical marijuana may be beneficial in the treatment of some diseases like glaucoma and epilepsy, only scientific research will prove the veracity of the many claims regarding efficacy for other diseases.”
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine weighed in on the issue back in 2017, arguing that, “despite...changes in state policy and the increasing prevalence of cannabis use and its implications for population health, the federal government has not legalized cannabis and continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research into the health harms or benefits of cannabis products...this lack of evidence-based information...poses a public health risk.”
If the bill does successfully pass the U.S. Senate, the new legislation will then need a final signature from President Biden before officially becoming law.
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