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'It's high time': Sen. Hatch rolls out marijuana research bill, encourages experimentation

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FILE: Image shows a screenshot of Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah. (KUTV)

(KUTV) Senator Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) announced Wednesday that he was introducing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, or MEDS Act.

The proposed legislation aims to improve the process for conducting scientific research on marijuana as a safe and effective medical treatment.

In a pun-filled news release, Hatch said, "It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana. Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good."

The 83-year-old senator continued, "To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act."

Hatch was joined by Senator Schatz (D-Hawaii) and cosponsors Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), Senator Cory Gardner (R-Col.), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

He concluded, "I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders. In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties."

The MEDS Act will:

  • Encourage more research on the potential medical uses of marijuana by streamlining the research registration process, without imposing a scheduling determination on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
  • Make marijuana more available for legitimate scientific and medical research and the commercial production of any FDA-approved drugs derived from marijuana.
  • Retain important checks to protect against diversion or abuse of the controlled marijuana substances.
  • Require the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and publish recommendations for good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana for research.
  • Require the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana.
  • Codify the administration’s decision to terminate the Public Health Service and its review of proposals for medical research on marijuana.
  • Prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from instituting any other marijuana-specific protocol reviews, other than the voluntary review that a researcher can request from National Institutes of Health (NIH) in order to access the expedited DEA registration process.