Hatch bill to further research on medical marijuana gains support from Tillis, Gardner

Aiming to remove federal barriers to public health research, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Wednesday introduced a bill to advance the scientific study of marijuana as an effective medical treatment, drawing the backing of U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

The bipartisan bill, the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, or MEDS Act, would reduce the administrative barriers that prevent legitimate research into medical marijuana.

“Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana,” Hatch said. “All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good.”

The MEDS Act would simplify the research registration process on the potential medical uses of marijuana. It would also make marijuana more available for scientific research and the commercial production of any drugs that stem from marijuana that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“When it comes to our nation’s efforts to cure diseases and improve the quality of life for people suffering from ailments, burdensome government regulations shouldn’t be an impediment to legitimate and responsible medical research,” Tillis said.

Tillis noted the dearth of research on the benefits and risks of using marijuana as medication.

“The MEDS Act is a common sense, bipartisan effort to remove unnecessary barriers that will give scientists the ability to study the biochemical processes, impact, dosing, risks and possible benefits of cannabidiol and other components of the marijuana plant.”

The bipartisan measure, which garnered support from U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chris Coons (D-DE), would also mandate that the Attorney General increase the national marijuana quota to satisfy the changing medical, scientific and industrial needs for marijuana.

“Our medical community continues to find new ways medical marijuana can help patients but currently there are too many barriers that are holding back even further advancements and research,” Gardner said. “This legislation is simple. It will make it easier for our universities, hospitals, and scientists to look at new ways that medical marijuana can be used for treatment.”

The legislation would not remove the current protections against abuse of controlled marijuana substances.