On July 27, 2022, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8454, the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Act, by the vote of 325-95, and the Senate is also expected to give it the thumbs up. The measure legalizes cannabis research. Finally.
What does this mean for your business? It means that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is directed to follow specific procedures to streamline the process for research registration and also for the supply of marijuana for the research. Universities, manufacturers, and others will soon be able to fully engage in medical research. An important piece of this stand-alone puzzle is that your doctors will be allowed to discuss the benefits and risk associated with cannabis use.
Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) spoke from the floor of the House, stating that “This bill makes it easier to do the necessary, rigorous medical research—just like is done for any other drug that has a claim of efficacy in this country,” continuing in part, stating “… for anyone with those conditions where it is found to be useful, it could be a godsend—but for other conditions where the claims won’t be found to be valid with rigorous research, it would be found to be ineffective … [t]hat would help protect American patients as well,” he said. “This would modernize our research methods, bringing medical marijuana up to the scientific standards we use for every other type of medication that is sold as a drug in this country.”
House member Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), said in a press release that “research is a foundational element for cannabis policy … it is crucial that researchers are able to fully study the health benefits of cannabis, ….” The congressman, who is a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, also said that “For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers obtaining resources and approval to study cannabis. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an important first step to changing that.”
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is quoted as saying “Researching marijuana is widely supported on both sides of the aisle, and it’s a smart step forward.”
Cannabis is a very complicated plant with more than 400 chemical entities, including at least 60 cannabinoid compounds. One article explaining the vast complexities is Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals, by Zerrin Atakan.
Cannabis has always carried a stigma to varying degrees and that stigma continues today. The vast majority of the population does not even understand the basics, and the focus has always been on the recreationally popular psychoactive compound, Delta-9 THC. But Delta-9 is only one of the potentially very useful compounds.
Soon researchers at well-funded labs will be able to study the plant, and there is no telling what they might find useful. If big business R&D funds are let loose in the cannabis world, there is room for optimism that many positive medical uses will be found, and that non-verifiable claims will be debunked. In turn, this brings legitimacy and the cloudy stigma of marijuana may finally disperse. The federal government might finally acknowledge what is already a reality. Cannabis is here to stay.
If your business has questions, we are happy to work with you to find the answers in this quickly evolving field.