US: Lawmakers frustrated by the state of cannabis research

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held the first legislative hearing on cannabis in 2020, and it’s clear that lawmakers are particularly frustrated by the state of cannabis research.

While dozens of states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, federal prohibition poses a number of hurdles for researchers hoping to understand the implications of cannabis use on individuals, and of legalization on Americans, as well as the therapeutic potential of the plant’s compounds, called cannabinoids. 

The hearing, entitled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” called on the following people to answer questions and provide testimonies: Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Matthew Strait, a senior policy advisor with the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director for regulatory programs at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. 

A total of six bills were under consideration, including two that would federally legalize cannabis, but much of the nearly three and a half hours was spent specifically discussing research, including existing literature, the need for more, and the barriers that investigators face. 

While it’s unlikely that many of the cannabis bills discussed will see traction in Congress this year, these hearings provide an opportunity for discussion about existing evidence on cannabis, and policy gaps. 


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