On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified about medical marijuana research to a Senate Judiciary committee. He was speaking during an oversight hearing on the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sessions revealed his desire to limit the expansion of the MEDS Act, which would allow for more research on medical marijuana.
The MEDS Act
The MEDS Act was introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who received most of his campaign funding from pharmaceutical companies. Since 2013, he’s taken $583,009 from pharmaceutical and health companies.
Hatch and Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) were at the forefront of passing a bill that made it harder for the DEA to prevent the distribution of suspicious opioids.
More recently, Hatch is championing a bill that would allow for more medical marijuana research to be conducted.
In September, he introduced the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017. The bill has received cosponsorship from several U.S. Senators. In his introductory statement, Hatch was sure to use as many weed-themed puns as possible.
“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch 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.”
Tom Angell wrote that Sen. Orrin Hatch is pushing medical marijuana as an opioid alternative. Hopefully, the new bill undoes some of the opioid-related damage from the last piece of legislation he helped pass.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) would develop the best practices for growing medical marijuana if the bill passes.
Jeff Sessions Testified About Medical Marijuana Research
Jeff Sessions testified about medical marijuana research, but it wasn’t as pro-cannabis as some headlines have painted it.
According to the bill, the MEDS Act would “require the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana.”
With the amount of support that the bill is receiving, it could be inevitable.
Now, Sessions is coming up with excuses to limit the number of medical marijuana research applications being approved.
“Each one of those has to be supervised by the DEA, and I have raised questions about how many, and let’s be sure we’re doing this in the right way because it costs a lot of money to supervise these,” Sessions said.
Sessions pointed to the financial burden as a reason to limit the number of green-lit applications.
“I think it would be healthy to have some more competition in the supply, but I’m sure we don’t need 26 new suppliers,” Sessions added.
There is currently only one lab, at the University of Mississippi, with a contract to grow medical cannabis for NIDA. All current researchers for marijuana have to get their cannabis from this one supplier.
New suppliers are necessary to create any type of competition or variety for studies. The cannabis being researched could be worlds apart from what medical marijuana patients are picking up in their state’s dispensary.