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Washington, DC -- Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a voice vote HR 3797, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD).
If this bill is enacted into law, it will:
- Enable researchers to study cannabis products that patients and consumers are using in state programs where cannabis is legal
- Make the licensing process less burdensome for cannabis researchers
- Improve the quality and quantity of medical cannabis available for research
- Direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue a report on the results of the research
ASA applauds its passage in the House. Research on medical cannabis in the U.S. has been unnecessarily burdensome, with medical cannabis researchers limited by roadblocks and delays in the registration and selection processes, the poor quality and quantity of medical cannabis available, and efforts by the current Administration to limit much-needed research on medical cannabis.
Currently, researchers are permitted to only obtain medical cannabis from the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), who has issued only a single permit to cultivate cannabis to the University of Mississippi. The DEA is currently being sued by a number of researchers who have applied for the permits that were to be made available, and the passage of this bill allows researchers access to a greater number of suppliers and products. The improved quality and diversity of products will give researchers a greater number of potential cannabinoid and terpene combinations that will allow research in the US to catch up with that of other countries.
“With over 4 million medical cannabis patients in 35 states across the country, it is now more important than ever for our federal government to finally allow adequate research on the health benefits of cannabis utilizing the products that patients are using everyday,” said Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access.
The House passage of this bill now sets the stage for consideration of the bill in the U.S. Senate. It is unlikely that the Senate will consider the measure during the lame duck session, forcing the bill sponsors to reintroduce the bill in the 117th Congress. “ASA hopes this vote on HR 3797 demonstrates to the incoming Administration that it is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to step out of the way on cannabis research. Researchers and patients have waited 50 years and we think that’s long enough,” said Dustin McDonald, interim policy director of Americans for Safe Access.