A bipartisan group of 30 U.S. lawmakers has demanded that federal authorities speed up research into the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis.
The members of the House of Representatives wrote to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon urging greater urgency. They said they have previously written to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice and lamented the lack of progress that has been made.
They argued that there is “tremendous evidence” surrounding marijuana’s medicinal benefits, which is why 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it. They noted that more research is needed to bring more legal products to the market, as just Epidiolex has been approved thus far at a federal level, but said the federal government stands in the way.
They branded the application process “arduous and long”, as the DEA, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse all need to be consulted. They sympathized with the frustration expressed by many people that wish to conduct further research into medicinal marijuana because they have to wait months or years for approval.
The group that signed the letter includes three candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, plus several long-term cannabis advocates. The leaders of the letter are Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Seth Moulton, who are both also in the mix for the Democratic nomination, also signed.
They commended the DEA for improving research prospects, but said it has not gone far enough. “We urged you then to go beyond these steps and do whatever you can to speed up and improve the application process,” said the Members of Congress.
In September 2018, a group of 15 lawmakers wrote to then Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Dhillon urging reform, and the pressure is mounting on these federal agencies to act.
Last month Barr declared that permitting states to legalize cannabis at a federal level would be preferable to the current “intolerable” situation.