US (DC): Democratic senators request update on federal steps towards critical medical cannabis research

Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined six of their Democratic colleagues in writing to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), to request an update on the issuance of manufacturing licenses necessary for the completion of long-awaited federal research on medical cannabis.

The senators seek guidance on how the DEA will make these licenses available to qualified researchers in a timely manner, given that the federal government has a unique responsibility to coordinate medical cannabis research efforts—and has delayed issuing these licenses in the past. The lack of federal action has made it nearly impossible for scientists to conduct new research on cannabis, despite the growing use of medical and recreational cannabis in Oregon and across the nation.

“With millions of American adults having access to recreational cannabis and a growing number seeking the drug for medicinal purposes, the federal government is not providing the necessary leadership and tools in this developing field,” wrote the Senators. “Evidence-based public policy is crucial to ensuring our cannabis laws best serve patients and health care providers.”

“This research is crucial to developing a thorough understanding of medical cannabis and would be invaluable to doctors, patients, and lawmakers across the nation,” they continued.

The lawmakers have requested responses no later than January 10, 2019, to better understand both the DEA's decision-making and its work with HHS and ONDCP to expand medical cannabis research.

Senators Merkley and Wyden were joined by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

A copy of the letter can be found here


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