Utah Senator Orrin Hatch wants to help medical marijuana research become easier to accomplish. The bill he just introduced to the Senate would take a look at medical marijuana as a safer and more effective alternative to opioid medications. The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 (MEDS Act) couldn’t have come at a better time as the country’s opioid crisis continues.
Senator Hatch is Mormon and remains very opposed to recreational marijuana use, according to Fortune. Regardless, the senator wants barriers removed that currently are making medical marijuana research challenging.
Senator Hatch addressed the Senate saying: “It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana. Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”
The bill includes provisions to streamline the research registration process. It would also make marijuana more available for research purposes and allow for the FDA to approve marijuana-derived medications that would be allowed for the commercial production of FDA-approved formulas.
If the bill is approved, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be required to increase the country’s national marijuana quota to meet research needs.
Protections would also be in place to make sure that abuse of controlled marijuana products doesn’t occur. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) would also have to establish and make available information recommending proper manufacturing practices for the cultivation and production of marijuana grown for research purposes.
Senator Hatch also told the Senate: “It will surprise no one that I am strongly against the use of recreational marijuana. I worry, however, that in our zeal to enforce the law, we too often blind ourselves to the medicinal benefits of natural substances like cannabis. While I certainly do not support the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the evidence shows that cannabis possesses medicinal properties that can truly change people’s lives for the better. And I believe, Mr. President, that we would be remiss if we threw out the baby with the bathwater. We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation. Under current law, those who want to complete research on the benefits of medical marijuana must engage in a complex application process and interact with several federal agencies. These regulatory acrobatics can take researchers over a year, if not more, to complete. And the longer researchers have to wait, the longer patients have to suffer.”
The MEDS Act has four co-sponsors: Senator Schatz, Senator Coons, Senator Gardner and Senator Tillis. The CARERS Act, introduced by Senators Paul, Booker and Gillibrand, has also been introduced in an effort to expand medical marijuana research.