Medical Marijuana Research Act Removes Barriers for Research but Doesn’t Protect State Programs and Patients

Washington, DC - Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is encouraged by the introduction of the bicameral and bipartisan medical cannabis (marijuana) research bill, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016. The original sponsors in the House; Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Andy Harris (R-MD), and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and in the Senate; Brian Schatz, (D-HI), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons, (D-DE), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are to be commended for their sincere efforts to remove federal barriers to medical cannabis research.

ASA is supportive of the objectives of the bill and agrees that it would do much to help facilitate clinical trials and medical cannabis research in the United States by decreasing the current barriers and increasing access to researchers. However, because the bill does not include protections from federal interference for the existing state medical cannabis programs and the more than 2 million Americans who rely upon them for their physician-recommended therapy, ASA can not endorse the bill at this time. 

Ending the conflict between state and federal medical cannabis laws is the primary goal of Americans for Safe Access. For that reason, ASA remains focused on passing the CARERS Act (S. 683, H.R. 1538), which would protect existing state programs and patients. While more research is certainly desirable, patients cannot wait for the years or decades it may take for the results of this research to drive further Federal policy changes.

A patient today diagnosed with late-stage cancer needs immediate relief. A child living with epilepsy may lose much of their childhood to seizures while waiting for federally-approved products to hit the market. There are more than 50 medical conditions included in existing state medical cannabis programs, and the patients with those conditions need federal protection.

ASA looks forward to working with the bill sponsors and other interested parties to help ensure that protections for existing state programs and the patients who rely upon them are truly free from the threat of federal arrest and prosecution when abiding by their state medical cannabis laws.