US House panel behind push for greater marijuana research

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The panel approved a bill yesterday that will require more licenses for marijuana farms to study marijuana

A few days ago, reports circulated about how marijuana research was being suppressed by one individual – US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has been a vocal opponent of expanding the licenses issued for the cultivation of marijuana that would lead to better and more thorough studies on the subject, but his days wielding the ax are numbered. A US House panel, charged with overseeing federal drug enforcement efforts, approved a bill yesterday that will require Sessions, and his Department of Justice, to approve more licenses.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has long been an opponent to legal marijuana. However, he sponsored the Medical Cannabis Research Act (MCRA), a bill that would force Sessions to approve at least two more licenses that would allow new farms for the growth and study of marijuana. Says the bill’s sponsor, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, “I think that the hardest vote for Republicans to take on marijuana is their first one,” Gaetz told Rolling Stone at the Capitol after his bill passed out of committee. “And so if we can create the broadest area of consensus to democratize access to research, I think, it will get us all thinking a lot more like adults going forward.”

Currently, only one farm possesses a license to grow marijuana for research, the University of Mississippi. Many in the industry refer to their supply as “a joke,” saying that it is very difficult to obtain and is of inferior quality.

The MCRA would also force the DOJ to rule on 23 other pending applications submitted for the study of marijuana. The goal of the bill is to push the federal government into assuming a role similar to that it maintains for the prescription drug industry.

There have been a number of studies over the past two decades that have proven marijuana to be an invaluable tool in the treatment of a number of ailments. However, virtually all of the studies have carried the tagline. “More research is needed.” As the benefits of the natural plant continue to be revealed, the industry needs – for the good of everyone – to step up and allow a greater amount of discovery in order to help the industry grow.