Congress Approves a Measure to Make It Simpler to Study Marijuana’s Advantages and Side Effects

Study Marijuana: Researchers have encountered significant regulatory hurdles in their attempts to study marijuana despite the fact that it is legal in a number of states and widely available even in those where it remains banned.

The new legislation just enacted by Congress has bipartisan support and is meant to cut through some of that bureaucracy.

Since the Drug Enforcement Administration still views marijuana as addictive and useless from a medical perspective, the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act accomplish nothing to improve its federal classification as a Schedule I substance. The measure, however, will remove some of the restrictions that have hampered previous studies.

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Congress Approves a Measure to Make It Simpler to Study Marijuana’s Advantages and Side Effects

According to U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and the act’s primary supporter in the House of Representatives, the bill will simplify the application process researchers must go through to obtain marijuana for study and give them access to a far larger variety of cannabis to examine.

Blumenauer told the Capital Chronicle, “the solely accepted cannabis was from a facility in Mississippi that offered cannabis of very, very low grade.” And scientists had to go through a lot of unneeded and annoying hurdles. There is an urgent need to learn more about cannabis’s properties and uses, so we must streamline the study process.

Study Marijuana's Advantages and Side Effects
Study Marijuana’s Advantages and Side Effects

Blumenauer has asked experts to create a more accurate test for determining intoxication levels in the workplace. Nowadays, employers use tests that can only reveal recent marijuana usage (within the past few weeks or months).

In his words, “every day, hundreds upon thousands of people across the country fail a pre-employment drug test simply because they’d consumed marijuana anytime within the last month or two,” which is a reference to the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. “After a week or two, it’s evident there’s no impairment, but the tests don’t provide that degree of clarity.”

He believes the act will benefit cancer and chronic disease research by providing researchers with easier access to more varieties of marijuana. Also, he said, it might improve the labels on Oregon’s commercially available cannabis.

Within a year, HHS must report to Congress on the following topics, per the act:

  • Medical diseases, such as intractable epilepsy, could benefit from marijuana’s therapeutic properties.
  • How the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) influences the body and the mind of a growing young adult.
  • How THC affects thinking and reaction time.
  • Research obstacles in states where medical or recreational marijuana is authorized.

Researchers studying marijuana under the legislation must show that they have taken precautions to prevent the drug from being used for illicit purposes. They should still keep it hidden.

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There are currently 37 states where medical marijuana is permitted and 21 states where recreational marijuana is authorized. The state of Oregon permits both uses. Blumenauer has been an advocate for fewer restrictions on cannabis as a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Along with Republican Maryland Representative Andy Harris, he sponsored the bill in Congress. It was approved with a vote of 325 to 95 from both the Democratic and Republican parties. U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) sponsored the legislation, which was approved by voice vote.

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