Bipartisan Cannabis Research Bill Could Cause 'Dire Unintended Consequences' For Industry, Reform Groups Say


Recently, the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC) and Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressing their support for streamlining cannabis research.

The organizations argue that the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act “does not expand research into existing cannabis medicines and only permits research for the purpose of a pharmaceutical New Drug Application (NDA) by large pharmaceutical companies.”

What’s In The Letter?

The letter, also stated that current law already allows cannabis to be researched as a potential pharmaceutical, pointing out that there are two marijuana-based FDA-approved drugs on the market: Syndros and Epidiolex.

“The Act fails to address the real issues,” in that the legislation aims to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

“The barriers to research exist in obtaining existing market products for approval in non-drug pathways (such as dietary supplements, food additives, and other FDCA pathways); in obtaining existing products for health and safety testing across state lines to ensure consistency of products; in using human subjects in testing highways safety, motor skill, and other studies to determine more exactly intoxicating levels and effects,” continued the letter.

It notes that “these flaws cause the Act to have substantial and dire unintended consequences for the existing medical cannabis, industrial hemp, and dietary supplement industries.

“By disallowing existing product manufacturers from researching dietary supplements or other FDCA pathway use, Congress would only increase the ease with which the large pharmaceutical interests can file preclusive drug patents over existing products, akin to generics or dietary supplements, that are state-regulated and available nationwide.”

Besides potentially upending existing state cannabis markets, the legislation could “substantially undermine the regulatory, social equity, agricultural, labor, and small business regimes in each state that is set up to promote public health, safety, and minority entrepreneurship,” the letter argued.

“Finally, the outcome would result in the diversion of pain management patients using medical cannabis back into opioid-based treatment and likely increase opioid-related mortalities.”

If the legislation is enacted into law, that “opens the door to prosecution of large swaths of First Amendment-protected activity under an expansive, novel interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act’s criminal reach,” the groups pointed out.

They reiterated that they’re not opposed to promoting marijuana research and have supported previous, more expansive proposals. But while sponsors might have had the right intentions, GACC and LEAP said the measure would “work to substantially harm cannabis research reform,” reported Marijuana Moment.

What’s Next?

Researchers associated with the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) are urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to advance the bill that would substantially expand scientific cannabis research “as quickly as possible.”

Nevertheless, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) opposes the move thus putting the vote in question. In an ideal scenario, with no objections, the bill would have advanced through the Senate swiftly, reaching President Biden’s desk for final approval and becoming the first standalone marijuana reform legislation to be enacted into law.

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