House Approves Medical Cannabis Research Legislation

The United States House of Representatives has passed bipartisan legislation that would remove barriers from legitimate medical cannabis research.

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on Wednesday announced that the House had passed HR 3797, also known as the Medical Marijuana Research Act (the Act), which he introduced with Representatives Andy Harris (R-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) on July 07, 2019.

The bill’s passage comes less than a week after the House passed the MORE Act, a cannabis decriminalization bill, on Friday, December 5.

While the vast majority of Americans live in states with some form of legalized cannabis, current federal law impedes the ability of researchers to properly study the health benefits of cannabis.

Among the federal restrictions that the Act would remove are redundant protocol reviews, the lack of adequate research material, unnecessarily onerous security requirements, and the overly burdensome registration process.

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research,” says Blumenauer. “It’s illegal everywhere to drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance. But we do not have a good test for impairment because we can’t study it…This is insane and we need to change it.”

Blumenauer says that it’s time to change the system as 91 percent of the American population supports medical cannabis, there are four million registered medical cannabis patients, and many more are likely to self-medicate.

According to a 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the United States leads the world in biomedical research but is far behind in cannabis research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids as it is limited in the United States.

The report states that restrictions on cannabis research leave patients, healthcare workers, and policy makers without the necessary scientific evidence to make sound decisions regarding cannabis and cannabinoid use.

The Act would provide a pathway to study medical cannabis products used by consumers in state programs and streamline the licensing process for professionals looking to conduct research.

Protections placed within the Act would serve as necessary safeguards against misuse and abuse.

The Act addresses the inadequate quality and quantity of medical-grade cannabis that is available for use in professional research as well.

The Act would also require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a report on the status and results of new research on the benefits of medical cannabis.

Having passed the House, the Act now goes to the U.S. Senate, though it is unlikely to receive consideration before the end of the current legislative session.