The US House Judiciary Committee will vote on the Medical Cannabis Research Act Thursday, potentially increasing the number of growers permitted to provide marijuana for scientific studies.
The act will allow Congress to issue a directive to allow a greater number of licenses for growing marijuana, removing the Justice Department from the decision-making process.
Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and 40 other bipartisan co-sponsors show that the support of this particular act is widespread.
However, the bill has already made concessions in preventing those with drug-related convictions from growing marijuana for use in scientific studies. This notable distinction means that a concern over further penalties for those who have been charged for drug possession or transport is alive and well in the debates regarding marijuana growth.
Supporters of this particular act find this distinction a point of contention. Meanwhile, others say the act will create a precedent that will be difficult, if not impossible, to dispute at a later time.
Gaetz himself has been clear that he would see the bill written differently. However, the bill is a step forward in legislation regarding marijuana growth, so it was written with the intention of providing comfort to the more conservative voters on the Republican side of the issue.
The move must have been sufficient in some respects, as the supporters for the bill include noted marijuana reform oppositionists, such as the Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.
Opposition still exists for this particular version of the bill, however. That includes the interim director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs, Michael Collins. Collins feels the wording that prevents those with convictions from growing marijuana for science is not pertinent to the support the bill currently has. Instead, he feels that area could be removed, and the bill would still pass.
Collins also feels that much bigger steps need to be taken to address issues caused by the drug war and also to deal with federal laws regarding marijuana.
With only days until the vote, Gaetz says he expects only minor technical adjustments to the bill. On Thursday, the truth will come out.