US researchers are another step closer to accessing a wider range of cannabis material for their important studies.
Up until relatively recently, the University of Mississippi was the only show in town for sourcing federally approved cannabis cultivated for research purposes. The quality of that cannabis had been criticised at times, as were the hoops needing to be jumped through to access it.
Back in 2019, the US’s Drug Enforcement Administration said would “facilitate and expand” scientific and medical marijuana research. But it wasn’t until March 2020 when it published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, followed by finalised new regulations relating to growers becoming registered with the DEA in December that year.
But many want to see access opened up more – much more, and there has been movement on that front.
Early this week, the House voted 343-75 in favour of passing House Bill 5657, the Medical Marijuana Research Act. Introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer in October last year, the bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by 11 other representatives would enable researchers to access cannabis from state-legal dispensaries for their studies.
“Absent a framework, research is outsourced to other countries -a missed opportunity for the industry & millions of Americans who consume cannabis products,” tweeted Rep. Blumenauer prior to the vote.
The US Cannabis Council welcomed news of the successful vote.
“Historically, federal policy has severely restricted researchers’ access to cannabis,” said Council CEO Steven Hawkins. “Lack of supply, along with onerous restrictions, has held back cannabis research for years. The House bill would upend the status quo by opening a critical new pathway for researchers to conduct studies with state-legal cannabis.”
The passing of House Bill 5657 follows the passing of a related bill in the Senate last week, which was a more limited proposal. The US Cannabis Council is urging House and Senate leaders to consolidate their bills and pass reform in 2022.
And it certainly seems there’s a willingness to do the latter.