On Wednesday, during a legal hearing of a U.S congressional subcommittee, lawmakers from both parties and three government witnesses advocated the need for more research investigation around marijuana to be conducted by the federal government authorities.
Interestingly, the exact guidelines about the starting of the research are not yet given by the concerned authorities. The process to conduct more research on marijuana is likely to affect the cannabis industry in a big way as the skepticism hovering over the industry shall wither away only after the results drawn by the researchers are taken into consideration and studied well. The time-consuming process is likely to hold back the federal legalization reform concerning marijuana.
“It’s time to get the data and let the decision be driven by the data,” quoted Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, during the hearing of the Health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The marijuana industry, along with several lawmakers, stated that it would be a good decision if the cannabis industry is de-channelized as soon as possible.
During the hearing, lawmakers highlighted the issues related to research around the cannabis industry. They mentioned that at present, cannabis is regarded as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act and so it is important to conduct more research to help conclude about the rescheduling or descheduling of marijuana. Falling in the Schedule 1 drug category implies that the research conducted needs approval by the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Anna Eshoo, the Chairperson of the subcommittee and a California Democrat, stated that the main agenda of the meeting was to ponder upon six bills, including three cannabis research bills and descheduling measures. However, during the meeting, the focus shifted to the health effects of marijuana. Eshoo clarified that she would conduct a follow-up hearing with other stakeholders as well for drawing a better conclusion.
Ironically, though the DEA has lent support to expanding research around the marijuana industry, it has delayed giving a verdict on 33 pending research applications. This has triggered accusations against DEA for overlooking the issue. The DEA countered the allegations by stating that it needed an intra-agency review to frame new policies for manifesting cannabis research operations.
The lawmakers and witnesses addressed the issues related to the inadequacy of the cannabis grown for research purposes as there exists only one DEA-licensed cannabis supplier, the University of Mississippi. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, stated that “critical stakeholders” were missing from the conversation, including those who have been victims of the war on drugs, medical cannabis patients and “small-business owners trying to find a fair footing in the industry.”