Time to Bust Down Barriers to Medical Marijuana Research

As of now, only one establishment has been given Drug Enforcement Administration clearance to manufacture medical marijuanamarijuana for research: University of Mississippi. This is in spite of a 2016 decision to allow DEA to approve medical marijuana manufacturers for research purposes and dozens of applications to join the pool, according to a McClatchy article. But a bipartisan bill aims to break down some of the barriers currently standing in the way of necessary and groundbreaking research. HR-5634 would force an increase in the number of registered manufacturers producing cannabis “for legitimate research purposes.”

It also would lift restrictions on medical practitioners at the Department of Veteran Affairs, who as of now must follow federal law and are therefore not allowed to recommend cannabis to any of their patients. If passed, the bill would open the door to federally approved clinical trials for veterans seeking help through the VA. This is a crucial next step in the fight for medical marijuana legalization nationwide. Veterans have long reported relief for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms through cannabis, but if they seek treatment through VA medical professionals, they cannot access medical marijuana, even if they live in one of the 29 states that have legalized medical use. Even Washington, D.C., has approved medical marijuana, despite being the epicenter of restricting marijuana nationwide.Our Orange County medical marijuana lawyers know the passage of this bill is necessary for two reasons. First is  Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. So long as this federal classification stands, Congress and state governments will have to keep creating convoluted workarounds to protect cannabis production, testing, and use. A Schedule I status means it has been determined that cannabis has no medical benefits and is actually harmful and susceptible to causing additions. This determination, however, is rooted in political posturing and propaganda. Which brings us to reason two this bill is so necessary: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has used his revered and respected title to uphold and reinforce archaic and backward logic about cannabis. This mentality had infected other federal agencies, such as the DEA and the VA, making it more difficult for them to fully engage in the progress the rest of the country is enjoying.

The ideal solution would be to declassify or change the classification of marijuana to fully free the nation from the shackles of marijuana prohibition. However, until that is possible, lawmakers are using whatever power they have to advance the cause. HR-5634 was introduced by Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and co-sponsored by a collection of 30 Republicans and Democrats in the House. One of those representatives is Luis Correa (D-Calif.), who recently authored another bill (HR-5520) that would further VA’s involvement in cannabis by tasking the group to research medical marijuana and its effect on chronic pain and PTSD.

Those who try to position cannabis as a partisan issue are still playing in to the misinformation that has been spread in the past. Both parties want what is best for the people of this nation, and rational minds can clearly see that opening the doors to more research and clinical trials is the only way to the safe and productive future of cannabis in the United States. We welcome these legislators in joining pro-cannabis advocates like our legal team in the fight for medical marijuana and for your rights.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Legislation to Explicitly Authorize the Veterans Administration to Facilitate Medical Marijuana Research, NORML

More Blog Entries:

Want to Honor Veterans? Access to Medical Marijuana a Good Start, April 13, 2018, Orange County Medical Marijuana Lawyers Blog