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Congress: Bipartisan Measures Introduced To Facilitate Marijuana Research Trials

Thursday, 07 July 2016

Congress: Bipartisan Measures Introduced To Facilitate Marijuana Research Trials

Washington, DC: A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate lawmakers have proposed legislation, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016 and the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies Act, to facilitate and accelerate clinical investigations into the safety and efficacy of cannabis.

Passage of the measures - House Bill 5549 and Senate Bill 3077 - would expedite the federal review process for clinical protocols involving cannabis. It would also eliminate existing production limits for research grade cannabis and allow for investigators to access the plant from sources other than the federal government's sole licensed cultivation facility located at the University of Mississippi. It also mandates an FDA review of relevant cannabis studies to be performed within five years after the act's passage.

Under present law, clinical investigations involving cannabis must meet approval from various federal agencies, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Only cannabis provided by NIDA/U-Miss program may be used in clinical trials. No other controlled substance, including other schedule I controlled substances, face such restrictions.

"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," co-sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said in a prepared statement. "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."

Other sponsors of the House bill include Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Sam Farr (D-CA), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA). Sponsors of the Senate version of the bill are Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.