By Ed Coghlan
You aren’t going to believe who wants to free up the federal government to increase its research on the medicinal qualities of marijuana.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch – a deep red conservative from Utah who is also a Mormon – has introduced a bill in Congress that, if passed, would make it easier to do research on marijuana.
One of the things holding back serious research on marijuana and its impact on helping chronic pain and other chronically ill patients has been the federal government active resistance to encourage research on the matter.
Senator Hatch issued a statement that was getting some press—given that some of what he wrote had his tongue firmly placed in his cheek.
“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch wrote in a pun-filled statement. The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 would streamline the process for approving research and increase the national marijuana quota for medical and scientific research. Marijuana has been shown to have potential health benefits such as treating seizures and managing pain.
Though more and more states are legalizing the drug for both medical and recreational uses, marijuana is still banned at the federal level. The Drug Enforcement Agency has long classified cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive classification. This means it’s in the same category as heroin and monitored very closely, which makes it difficult to get approval to study it. The DEA also establishes a yearly amount of medical marijuana that can be grown for research. Last August, the agency rejected an appeal to stop classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug.
“To be blunt,” Hatch continued, “we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana,” since some regulations do more harm than good.
The number of Americans who support legalizing marijuana has doubled since 2000. Most polls show that a majority of Americans believes marijuana should be legalized.
And the election last November was a tipping point for marijuana legalization. The election legalized recreational marijuana in California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts. North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, and Florida all approved medical marijuana.
Hatch co-wrote the bill with Brian Schatz (D-HI), and it is also supported by senators such as Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE). The current administration has mostly kept to the status quo when it comes to marijuana. Though Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been trying to bring back a war on drugs, he seems to not be having very much luck given the growing support for the drug.