Lawmakers Call on Attorney General to Allow State-Legal Weed in Federal Cannabis Researchers

Legislators from both sides of the aisle encouraged AG William Barr to remove cannabis research barriers and allow state-legal producers to provide product for clinical studies.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Congress members joined forces late last week to call on federal officials to expand the scope of cannabis research and allow state-legal marijuana companies to participate in clinical studies.

First reported by Marijuana Moment, 21 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle signed a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr on Friday demanding that he adjust federal narcotics policy “so as to allow researchers with Schedule I licenses to obtain cannabis-derived products from state authorized dispensaries for research purposes.”

Despite some form of cannabis legalization on the books in 47 out of the 50 states, federally funded research initiatives are restricted to using marijuana samples that are explicitly approved by the DEA. Currently, there is only one farm licensed to grow cannabis for DEA-approved research purposes, and that University of Mississippi cultivation plot has been routinely criticized for producing substandard cannabis.

“There is a need for a greater diversity of cannabis products so that research on benefits and risks reflects the realities of what consumers and patients are using,” legislators wrote. “NIH and FDA have strongly recommended streamlining the process for conducting research and product development activities with cannabis and other Schedule I substances, and that the DEA take action to assure that interpretations of processes and policies are universally applied in local DEA jurisdictions.”

Federal lawmakers used a similar letter called on the DEA to expand the number of cannabis cultivators licensed to provide product for research purposes, but despite promises from the officials to permit new research-focused cultivators, the agency has not yet followed through on that guarantee.

This time around, the federal pressure was led by legislators Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), and was co-signed by 19 of their peers, including Senators. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Representatives. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA).

“Our nation’s cannabis research laws are archaic,” Rouda said in a press release. “Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis consumption—we must ensure our federal agencies and other licensed institutions can comprehensively study the benefits and risks of cannabis products… It’s time to bring our drug research policies into the 21st century.”

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