U.S. House of Reps Approves Cannabis Research Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a bill that would make studying cannabis much more accessible to researchers.

The House of Representatives has passed another cannabis-related bill, following their passage of the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement) Act, this time passing a cannabis research bill.

The proposed bill, called the Medical Marijuana Research Act, would allow researchers to use dispensary cannabis for their studies, as opposed to current regulation which only allowed for marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi to be studied.

The bill was introduced by representatives on both sides of the political spectrum, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD). On their justification for the bill, Blumenauer said:

"The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research. It's a narrow bill that fixes one of many broken cannabis laws. And I want to hasten to add that this in no way negates the need to move forward with other areas of legalization… But this is sort of a foundational question. No matter where you are, there's no reason the federal government should impede this critical research."

Harris, who has typically opposed cannabis legalization, stated that he "agree[s] 100 percent that we need to do this research."

"Now, unfortunately, because of the public policy we've had in place with marijuana and its scheduling, it simply couldn't be done. You can't do it under the current scheduling… This is on us. It shouldn't have taken so long to get to this point."

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has come under scrutiny for the past several years for stonewalling research into medical cannabis, given that the DEA hasn't carried out the evaluation process for 37 applications to cultivate cannabis for medical research purposes after nearly four years of delays.

This has even led to lawsuits levelled against the DEA in the hopes of prompting action from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The DEA's inaction has led to the bottlenecking of cannabis research in the U.S., which has drastically halted the capacity for cannabis's categorization as a Schedule I substance to be changed.

Schedule I status was designed to include all of the "hardest" drugs that had no medicinal benefit while having a high potential for abuse. Other drugs alongside cannabis in the Schedule I status are LSD, MDMA, heroin, magic mushrooms and several others.

Until the gates to researching cannabis are pried open, cannabis restrictions will remain on a federal level in the U.S.

The proposed research bill would remove any limitations on how many entities can register to cultivate research-oriented cannabis, as well as simplifying the registration processes for those who seek to do so.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.