Today, Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) unveiled the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 during a press conference held at noon on Capitol Hill. The legislation, which was introduced with widespread bipartisan support, finally allows researchers to study the potential cures medical cannabis may unlock. Further scientific research on medical cannabis could unlock cures for veterans, the chronically ill, and the elderly. Rep. Gaetz’s legislation does not change the legal status of cannabis, and does not interfere with federal, state, or local cannabis laws. The following Members of Congress also participated in the press conference: Reps. Darren Soto (FL-09), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Lou Correa (CA-46), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Barbara Lee (CA-13).
“Today, twenty-six members of Congress joined me in cosponsoring the Medical Cannabis Research Act. This bipartisan cannabis reform legislation will improve the quality of scientific research on cannabis, while protecting research institutions nationwide. I fully believe that this bill has a chance to pass this Congress and be signed into law by the President, who expressed his support for medical cannabis during his campaign.
It is monumental for the House Judiciary Committee to consider cannabis-related legislation. They have not tackled legislation on this topic since 1978, before I was born. I have been assured that the committee will take up my legislation, however; the Medical Cannabis Research Act was cosponsored by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and his office was instrumental in helping to draft the final legislation. He has been invaluable in making this legislation a reality, and I thank him for his help.
Cannabis has always faced a Catch-22 in Congress: we can’t change cannabis laws without doing research, but we can’t do more research without changing the law. Our bill finally breaks that logjam. This legislation will make a tremendous difference to researchers nationwide, who may finally be able to develop cures for illnesses that affect many of America’s most vulnerable populations. I thank my colleagues for their support, and look forward to passing sweeping cannabis reform legislation this Congress,” Rep. Gaetz said.
Click HERE or below to view footage from the press conference.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE MEDICAL CANNABIS RESEARCH ACT
Currently, all federally-approved studies of medical cannabis get their product from one subpar source. It is weak and often moldy, which can cause illness. In addition to being poor quality, federally-grown cannabis is scarce; not enough is grown. This legislation requires the Attorney General to annually assess whether there is an adequate and uninterrupted supply of research-grade cannabis, and to ensure that there are at least three federally approved manufacturers at any given time.
Some federally-funded institutions, such as universities, want to research cannabis, but have been unable to do so; research cannabis threatens their federal funding. This legislation includes much-needed “safe harbor” for researchers and institutions studying cannabis, and for patients in federally-approved medical cannabis clinical trials.
Even though VA doctors/staff are not prohibited from sharing information about federally-approved cannabis clinical trials with patients, many VA offices believe mentioning these trials is illegal. This legislation codifies that healthcare providers at the VA are authorized to provide information about federally-approved cannabis clinical trials, and they are also allowed to fill out forms for veterans to participate in these trials.
Most importantly, this legislation does not interfere with federal laws, state laws, or law enforcement. This bill makes no changes to the legal status of cannabis. It simply unlocks the potential for research into a compound that could prove beneficial to veterans, chronically ill persons, and the elderly.