A group of U.S. Senators is attempting to end the prohibition-fueled dearth of federal cannabis research. The Senate Appropriations Committee has made a series of directives to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that could create national standards for cannabis product safety.
Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, research has into the plant has been severely lacking. According to a report from long-time cannabis advocate Tom Angell for Forbes, the Appropriations Committee released a report this week that instructs scientists at the two federally funded drug agencies to remedy that problem, requesting the creation of a "National Testing Program for Schedule I Marijuana-Derived Products."
In their recommendations, the committee calls for the testing of both cannabis seized in DEA drug busts and cannabis products available commercially in legal weed states. It is still not clear whether the legal weed products included in the recommendations would be purchased from licensed dispensaries or seized in DEA raids.
"The Committee believes that such research [on law-enforcement-seized cannabis], along with analysis of marijuana and marijuana-derived products sold commercially in dispensaries or online, is essential for informing substance abuse prevention efforts, public health policy, and law enforcement tactics across the Federal Government." The report reads.
If enacted, the Appropriations Committee’s directives could hypothetically help create national safety standards for legal marijuana, and, as indicated in the report, make room for a change in marijuana’s federal scheduling that could expand research exponentially.
"The Committee is concerned that restrictions associated with Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act effectively limit the amount and type of research that can be conducted on certain schedule 1 drugs, especially marijuana or its component chemicals and certain synthetic drugs," the report says. "At a time when we need as much information as possible about these drugs, we need to review lowering regulatory and other barriers to conducting this research. The Committee directs NIDA to provide an update...on the barriers to research that result from the classification of drugs and compounds as Schedule 1 substances."
The NIDA has studied seized cannabis before, but that program was ended in 2014, and no federal agency has ever officially examined state-approved medical or recreational cannabis.