A federal lawmaker is calling for Congress to lift some of the restrictions surrounding the cannabis plant in order to facilitate the research necessary to learn more about its therapeutic benefits.
On Wednesday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch dragged a piece of legislation called the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 (MEDS Act) up to the steps of Capitol Hill in hopes of breathing new life into the scientific exploration of the cannabis plant.
The goal of the measure is to give researchers more opportunities to study the positive effects of marijuana – perhaps even leading to definitive evidence that marijuana can be used as a viable alternative to opioid painkillers.
In a statement accompanying the bill, Hatch said medical marijuana has the ability to “truly change people’s lives for the better.”
“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” he said. “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.”
If approved, the bill would streamline the registration process for researchers interested in studying the herb. It would also force U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ramp up the national marijuana production quota in order to keep up with the evolution of the cannabis plant within the medical and scientific communities.
And while Hatch, a Republican and a Mormon, wants to see the federal government learn more about the medicinal value of the cannabis plant, the lawmaker’s motives are not at all directed toward a scheme that involves ending federal marijuana prohibition across the nation.
In fact, Hatch says he is adamantly opposed the idea of legalizing the leaf for recreational use.
“I am strongly against the use of recreational marijuana,” Hatch said. “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.”
It is important to point out that Hatch’s bill would not force the DEA to reschedule the cannabis plant under the Controlled Substances Act. It would only grease the gears of the federal government’s drug control politics in a way that gives researchers easier access to research cannabis.