US: Committee advances legislation to facilitate clinical research on authorized cannabis products

Members of a Congressional committee have, for the first time, advanced legislation to facilitate clinical cannabis research by allowing scientists to access marijuana and marijuana products manufactured in accordance with state-authorized marijuana programs.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted today in favor of a substitute version of Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s HR 3797: The Marijuana Research Act of 2019. The substitute language amends the original bill by expediting the approval process for federal cultivation applicants and by providing scientists with the option to utilize products manufactured by state-licensed sources. Under current policy, FDA-approved protocols involving cannabis are strictly prohibited from utilizing cannabis grown under a state license.

“As momentum grows in our effort to end the failed prohibition of cannabis, we also need to address failed drug laws like the ones that make it extremely difficult for researchers and doctors to study cannabis. With some form of cannabis legal in nearly every state, it’s inexcusable that the federal government is still blocking qualified researchers from advancing the scientific knowledge of cannabis,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer said. “The bipartisan support of our legislation in today’s committee markup is an important step in removing unnecessary barriers to medical cannabis research and ensuring that patients, clinicians, and consumers can fully understand the benefits and risks of cannabis.”

“This proposed regulatory change is necessary and long overdue,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “In fact, NORML submitted comments to the US Federal Register in April explicitly calling for this change.”

He added: “Rather than compelling scientists to access marijuana products of questionable quality manufactured by a limited number of federally licensed producers, federal regulators should allow investigators to access the cannabis and cannabis-infused products that are currently being produced in the legal marketplace by the multitude of state-sanctioned growers and retailers. Doing so will not only facilitate and expedite clinical cannabis research in the United States and provide important data regarding the safety and efficacy of real-world products, but it will also bring about a long overdue end to decades of DEA stonewalling and interference with respect to the advancement of our scientific understanding of the cannabis plant.”


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