Federal lawmakers are looking to expedite the approval process for marijuana research. Earlier last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that would force the Drug Enforcement Administration to develop accelerated procedures for researchers seeking permission to study cannabis.
The DEA’s meticulous demands have been sandbagging cannabis researchers for decades, but the approval of this legislation would put an end to this by forcing the agency to “review all relevant DEA rules governing research on the medical efficacy of marijuana and determine ways to facilitate further research through streamlining the DEA approval process.”
Interestingly, this important legislation is being supported by Representative Andy Harris, who just last year spearheaded an amendment to block the District of Columbia from pressing ahead with plans to establish a cannabis industry. The latest measure, which is attached to budget considerations for the Department of Justice, demands the DEA work with national health agencies to develop a reasonable approach to facilitating research pertaining to the cannabis plant.
As it stands, even the most thorough proposal begging permission to research marijuana can take years before it is granted approval by the DEA.
The passing of this bill is encouraging news for marijuana advocates, but some like Mike Liszewski, director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, are concerned that it will not fully unleash the leaf.
“The language is certainly welcome in its apparent attempt to facilitate research, but in practical terms, I’m not sure that it would accomplish that end,” he said, adding that the proposed changes would do little to solve the problems with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Reports indicate that the amendment to the 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill is now on its way to the House floor for consideration.