U.S. Senate Passes SAM-Supported Bill Easing Access to Marijuana Research

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the SAM-supported Cannabidiol Medical Marihuana Research Expansion Act. The bipartisan bill – which SAM helped to write – is sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Grassley, and Schatz, and would amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove some barriers that prevent researchers from adequately evaluating the potential risks and benefits of the use of marijuana and its derivatives. Notably, more than 30,000 research studies have been done on the drug under existing rules.
“This is the right approach to marijuana policy,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former three-time White House senior drug policy advisor. “The drug does not have to be legalized and a nationwide industry created just to conduct better research on it. We have supported and encouraged ways to elevate legitimate research within the FDA system since our inception and we will continue efforts such as this to increase our understanding of the marijuana plant, its derivatives, and its potential benefits and harms.”
In 2015, several of SAM’s recommendations for more research, such as the elimination of the Public Health Service extra layer of review, were implemented. If passed in the House and signed by the President, the bill will be yet another law SAM helped formulate. The proposed Act aims to streamline the licensure process for members of the scientific community who are seeking to conduct research on the drug while maintaining guidelines protecting against misuse and abuse, such as diversion to the illicit market. Furthermore, the bill seeks to address the issue of marijuana available for research being far removed from the higher potency products readily available in “legal” markets.
Finally, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue a report on the currently available body of research as it pertains to marijuana and its use within no more than five years of its adoption into law.
“Bills like this show us legalization attempts like the MORE Act are unnecessary. We will advocate for swift passage of the bill in the House and continue to vigorously oppose attempts at legalization,” continued Dr. Sabet.