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420 with CNW — Bipartisan Lawmakers Express Concern About Persisting Barriers to Marijuana Research

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Two bipartisan Congress lawmakers have expressed serious concerns about the slow progress in implementing a measure that President Joseph Biden signed into law aimed at simplifying cannabis research procedures.

Representatives Andy Harris from Maryland and Earl Blumenauer from Oregon sent a letter to the heads of the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seeking clarification on how marijuana research should be facilitated under the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act signed into law by the president in 2022.

Harris and Blumenauer, despite their differing views on more general marijuana policy matters, collaborated on this legislation, which they hailed as a significant step forward in resolving the federal government’s restrictions on marijuana research. However, they criticized the DEA and HHS for failing to implement the law effectively, contrary to congressional intentions.

In their letter, the lawmakers emphasized the importance of studying the effects of marijuana use, especially with more than one-half of U.S. citizens residing in states where recreational marijuana is legal and more than four million medical cannabis users. They expressed concern over the delay in processing an estimated 150 research applications for marijuana studies by the FDA under HHS and highlighted the outdated licensing requirements imposed by the DEA, which exclude many researchers.

Further, they noted that the HHS failed to meet its deadline for providing Congress with a report detailing the obstacles to government cannabis research, pointing to the act’s inadequate execution.

Harris and Blumenauer posed several questions to the DEA and HHS, including seeking clarification on timelines for research application decisions, pending research licensing applications, reasons for missing deadlines, and steps being taken to streamline research registration and expand marijuana research.

The collaboration between Harris and Blumenauer is noteworthy given their contrasting stances on marijuana policy. Blumenauer, a cochair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC), has long advocated for federal cannabis legalization, while Harris has opposed such efforts. Despite their differences, both lawmakers are committed to ensuring that federal agencies adhere to the law aimed at facilitating marijuana studies.

In a related move, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognized the difficulties faced by researchers studying marijuana due to federal prohibition; these challenges include convoluted laws and insufficient cannabis supply. In response, the agency declared its intention to create a resource center for marijuana and cannabinoid studies, demonstrating its dedication to removing obstacles that stand in the way of researchers and scientists.

The research barriers that the lawmakers refer to are a fraction of the hurdles that industry actors such as Tilray Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) (TSX: TLRY) have to contend with in the different jurisdictions where they operate.

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