On July 25, a bipartisan bill from Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was introduced to address the “burdensome process that currently hinder medical research on marijuana.”
H.R. 3391, formally known as the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017, addresses many of the barriers faced by researchers hoping to conduct research with marijuana. Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the same classification handed to heroin, LSD, and ecstacy. Despite this, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C.
“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 Harris in a press release.
If the bill passes through the House of Representatives and Senate, it would go to President Donald Trump, who stated during his campaign that he would leave marijuana legalization up to the states.
“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 Griffith in the press release. “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.”
The bill, which would be an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act, would also allow for the private manufacturing and distribution of marijuana solely for research purposes. You can track the status of this bill here.