Senators Urge Feds to Ensure Dispensary Marijuana Is Safe

Michigan Pushes to Protect Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Senate panel is urging several federal agencies to undertake a series of moves, which include providing ways to test marijuana products sold at dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal.

Based on concerns over the lack of information on the potency and purity of cannabis being sold to consumers, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is directing federal agencies to formulate a “National Testing Program for Schedule I Marijuana-Derived Products,” according to Forbes.

In a recent report, senators instructed scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to work with the DEA to analyze marijuana samples and “provide robust reliable data that can inform policy.”

Until recently, research scientists analyzed illegal drugs provided by the government under a NIDA-funded program of testing samples of illicit marijuana seized by law enforcement.

This is the first move to officially analyze commercial cannabis products sold to consumers in legal marijuana states.

“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,” according to the report.

Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority says it is not yet understood how the program will be carried out. Will NIDA research teams be dispatched to dispensaries to buy weed and analyze it or will they rely on DEA raids and confiscations of facilities then test the seized products?

A High Times report uncovered how the NIDA Drug Supply Program functioned, and gave the public a glimpse of what “grows in their mysterious gardens.”

In tin cans full of joints, NIDA distributed hundreds of pounds of weed in machine-rolled doobies to a handful of researchers for over 30 years, as a part of their Compassionate Investigational New Drug program.

So, with their experience in analyzing bad weed seized in pot busts or possibly worse weed grown for the government at the University of Mississippi, the feds might soon be testing cannabis consumed legally by real people.

Separately in the report, the committee also expressed alarm at the “barriers to research,” which are the result of cannabis being a Schedule 1 drug. The committee directed NIDA to compile a report about the matter.

“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.”

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