The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill today to ease restrictions imposed by the DEA on cannabis research.
In a markup session held over Cisco Webex designed to amend 38 bills, cannabis research was among them.
“I am also pleased we are moving legislation today that will facilitate further research access to marijuana,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Pallone represents the 6th congressional district, which roughly runs from Asbury Park to Woodbridge Twp and includes Edison and New Brunswick.
H.R. 3797, the “Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019”, was introduced by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Andy Harris (R-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI).
The bill would ensure an ample supply of medical marijuana for research by mandating that simplified applications would be reviewed within 30 days of acceptance by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The bill would have the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourage cannabis growing by authorized producers. The Medical Marijuana Research Act would thus revolutionize cannabis research.
Blumenauer is a long-time champion of cannabis reform, having sponsored by many cannabis-related bills. Since Blumenauer and the others introduced the bill last year, 15 more Members of Congress from both parties have since signed on as co-sponsors.
“It came about because Harris and I were debated the issue on the floor,” said Griffith, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “I believe there are signs medical marijuana can be beneficial.”
Griffith said he has heard anecdotal evidence about cannabis’ benefits, but the DEA has blocked further research into its nuances.
“I think this bill will get us there,” Griffith said.
“I just believe this bill takes us in the right direction,” Pallone said. He cited a hearing held in January that supported improving the research process.
“We don’t have the data we need,” said Dingell, who also sits on the committee. She noted, despite that, adult-use sales have begun in her home state of MI.
Dingell called the application process “burdensome.”
“It’s high time we modernize our nation’s medical apparatus to research marijuana,” Dingell said.
She said she begged her late husband to try it, but he resisted due to the lack of proper research and old propaganda.
Cannabis Research Issues
Among the groups that have come out in support of the Medical Marijuana Research Act is Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which claims to be in favor of decriminalization while ardently fighting legalization and demonizing cannabis. In addition, the National Sheriffs Association and many medical groups signed on to the bill’s passage.
Cannabis research is not how it is portrayed in the classic Half Baked, where cannabis from a lab is so strong consumers think they’re flying. In stark contrast, the cannabis the federal government allows scientists to study is of exceedingly poor quality. It is also difficult to obtain. The only cannabis that can be legally studied is grown by the University of Mississippi.
The 116th Congress has been one of the most pro-cannabis bodies in history. The SAFE Banking Act passed the Democratic-controlled House, and the MORE Act, which would legalize cannabis, is scheduled for a vote in two weeks. However, the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to vote on either bill.