U.S.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Pushes Feds To Ease Restrictions On Marijuana Research

ElizabethWarren[AP-THCFinder]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to clear the roadblocks out of the way so that government-paid researchers can study marijuana -- and not just the negative side effects.

Warren is leading a group of eight Democratic senators who are urging federal officials to correct the "data shortfall" on potential health benefits of medicinal cannabis by making it easier to study the herb, reports Sarah Ferris at The Hill.

“It is important that we make a concerted effort to understand how this drug works and how it can best serve patients through appropriate methods of use and doses, like any other prescribed medicine,” wrote the Senators in a letter to government officials. The letter was sent to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy – all of which have some control over cannabis-related rules.

Since marijuana is still inexplicably classified as a Schedule I substance under federal law -- meaning it supposedly has no medical value and a high potential for abuse -- it remains difficult to study. Researchers are forced to go through multiple layers of approval to even test the stuff, and under current rules, it can only be grown at the University of Mississippi by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The Senators said the federal agencies "have both an opportunity and a responsibility" to ensure adequate marijuana research. They asked about the timeline for reconsidering the status of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, and about efforts to allow other groups than the NIDA to acquire permits to grow marijuana for research.

Sen. Warren first said she supports medical marijuana back in 2012, shortly after her father died of cancer. "If there's something a physician can prescribe that can help someone who's suffering, I'm in favor of that," she told Boston's WTKK. "It should be like any other prescription drug. That there's careful control over it."

In addition to Sen. Warren, the letter was also signed by Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) – all of whom have introduced or cosponsored previous marijuana legislation.

Photo of Sen. Elizabeth Warren: AP/THCFinder