Senator introduces bill to make it easier to do medical marijuana research

Senator introduces bill to make it easier to do medical marijuana research

He’s being very blunt

Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced a bill to Congress that, if passed, would make it easier to do research on marijuana.

“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 an 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 trend is clear: 60 percent of Americans support legalizing weed, up from 31 percent in 2000. 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.

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