Green light? US proposal for streamlined cannabis research

A US senator has proposed legislation to remove barriers to medical cannabis research.

Democrat Senator Dick Durbin has introduced the expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act, which, if ratified, would remove restrictions on federal research into cannabis and aid studies into the drug’s benefits and drawbacks.

Research over the health and public safety impacts of cannabis use is limited, and a serious barrier to widespread acceptance of medical cannabis.

“With some form of legalisation on the books in over 30 states and now Illinois, I want to lift federal restrictions so we can conduct additional medical research on marijuana,” Durbin said.

“We need a better understanding of promising uses of cannabis for treatment, as well as how marijuana use impacts public safety and specific populations – including children, pregnant women, and drivers.”

Research over the health and public safety impacts of cannabis use is limited

Cannabis classification

Federal regulator the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cannabis and its derivatives as Schedule I controlled substances, defined as having no medical benefit.

Durbin’s office states this classification imposes restrictions on the access to and use of cannabis in scientific research.

A statement adds: “Researchers have to follow a multi-step regulatory maze for each new study of cannabis, including clinical trial approval from the Food and Drug Administration; acquiring strains of cannabis through the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and numerous levels of personnel licensure and facility inspection from the DEA; in addition to multiple additional levels of state registrations.

“This has created regulatory conflicts in which researchers in some states that have legalised the recreational use of cannabis are unable to conduct research on products that are readily available to the public.”