DENVER – U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing the possibility of more federal research into the medical benefits of marijuana.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017 on Wednesday, with a pun-laden press release and speech on the Senate floor coming from the Utah Republican.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) September 13, 2017
Hatch said it was “high time” to address medical marijuana research, saying the various state medical marijuana programs haven’t led to the federal government “delving into the weeds” on research. (The remainder of his brief press release made references to “strains,” “blunt,” “roll out the MEDS Act,” “joint effort” and a “kumbaya moment for both parties.”)
Gardner joined Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Thom Tillis, R-N.C. in cosponsoring the bill.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
According to the senators, the legislation, if approved, would streamline the marijuana research registration process in order to foster more research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana.
It wouldn’t ask the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule marijuana, which currently holds the DEA’s highest classification for drugs—Schedule I—along with opiates, cocaine, hallucinogens and others.
The legislation aims to increase research as to whether the FDA might be able to approve drugs with THC—marijuana’s primary psychoactive ingredient. It also would require the U.S. attorney general to increase the national marijuana quota to increase research capabilities.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse would be required to develop and publish recommendations for growing research marijuana as well, among other aims of the bill.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana use, and Colorado was among the leaders when voters approved the program in 2000.
Gardner has warmed to medical marijuana in recent years. Earlier this summer, he and another bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to help legal marijuana businesses bank in the U.S.
And on several occasions over the past couple years, Gardner cosponsored legislation aimed at letting epileptic patients gain better access to CBD treatments.
The MEDS Act is one of several marijuana-related bills making its way through Congress.