Federal Marijuana Research Bill Creates ‘Schedule I-R’

Federal lawmakers believe they may have devised a master plan to help facilitate the research of medical marijuana. Earlier this week, a proposal was submitted to Congress, which aims to create a new sub-category within the Controlled Substances Act that would simplify the process of studying the cannabis plant.

The proposed amendment to the Century Cures Act, a bill aimed at expediting the creation of new medications, would allow marijuana used for research purposes to be classified a “Schedule I-R” in an effort to establish “credible research on the medical efficacy of marihuana.” The bill comes with a “Sense of Congress” meant to persuade the National Institutes of Health and the Drug Enforcement Administration to collaborate on marijuana-related studies.

“Given the widespread use of medical marijuana, it is imperative that doctors better understand how it can be used to treat different people and conditions, as well as the risks involved,” Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said in a statement. “Our amendment shows members of Congress with widely varying views on marijuana policy are united in support of building a robust body of scientific information on medical marijuana.”

Interestingly, while the amendment is supported by a band of usual suspects, it has also managed to receive the backing from a lawmaker who has made it his mission to prevent pot legalization on many different levels. Maryland Representative Andy Harris, who is responsible for preventing the possibility of retail cannabis sales in the District of Columbia, has also signed on to push this amendment through.

Suggesting that marijuana policies should be rooted in science, Harris said that more research was needed “to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits, and if so, what is the best way to gain those benefits.”

While creating an alternative category for marijuana “intended to be used exclusively for research” is undoubtedly another half-measure aimed at buying Congress more time to determine the future of the cannabis plant, the amendment could provide some relief for researchers. However, some drug policy experts have suggested that the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant has very little to do with inhibiting research.

It is anticipated the amendment will be discussed in the House of Representatives later next week.


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