The Cannabis Community Is on Fire: United States House Passes Cannabis Research Legislation

The hits keep coming for the cannabis community as our hot streak continues in the political realm. Fresh off the heels of the passage of the historic MORE Act to end federal prohibition, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a research bill today on a voice vote.  House Resolution 3797: The Marijuana Research Act, facilitates research by establishing a process so that allows scientists to access cannabis flower and other products manufactured in accordance with state-regulated programs.

As Marijuana Moment reported, the research bill had the backing of cannabis law reform leader Earl Blumenauer and prohibitionist Andy Harris:

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research,” Blumenauer said on the House floor prior to the vote. “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, for his part, pointed out that he and Blumenauer probably disagree more vigorously with one another about marijuana legalization than any two other members of Congress. But “we agree 100 percent that we need to do this research,” he said.

“Now, unfortunately, because of the public policy we’ve had in place with marijuana and its scheduling, [research] simply couldn’t be done,” Harris, who is a medical doctor, said. “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.”

As NORML’s Paul Armentano wrote previously in The Hill, the DEA has stifled research on a number of fronts:

It’s been nearly three years since the Drug Enforcement Administration formally announced plans to facilitate FDA-approved marijuana-related research in the United States. Unfortunately, in the 36 months since then, the agency has woefully failed to follow through on their pledge.

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Moreover, U-Miss’s “research-grade” marijuana is only available to scientists in the form in rolled cigarettes. Marijuana-infused oils, edibles and capsules — items that are now commonplace in both medical and adult-use states — are not available to investigators absent explicit permission from the DEA to import such products from countries outside of the United States.

Scientists wishing to better study the effects cannabis plant in controlled human trials have long been aware of these onerous hurdles, which often discourage many investigators from engaging in such activities.

Like the MORE Act, this research bill faces an uncertain future with the Mitch McConnell-led Senate. However, unlike the MORE Act, this legislation was passed in a bipartisan manner, elevating hopes that McConnell will allow it to proceed. Whether HR 3797 ultimately passes this year or not, its future, and the future of the cannabis community is certainly very bright. Let’s keep the fire going.

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