It's high time to look closer at medical marijuana research, eight Democratic senators wrote in a letter sent Monday to several departments in the federal government.
Acknowledging that 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use and an additional 15 states allow cannabadiol — all without federal involvement — the senators argue that the federal government has an "opportunity and a responsibility to craft a sensible research and public health strategy that allows us to generate meaningful data and conclusions." The letter, sent to heads of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, also applauds a recent decision by the Obama administration to streamline the medical marijuana research approval process.
"As an increasing number of Americans consult with their doctors about marijuana treatment options, it is important that we make a concerted effort to understand how this drug works and how it can best serve patients through appropriate methods of use and doses, like any other prescribed medicine," wrote the senators.
The letter urges that while states implement medical marijuana policies, HHS has the power to collect data, conduct surveillance, perform large-scale trials and facilitate interstate communication.
The letter also calls for HHS to coordinate with other agencies to support independent scientists in their efforts to research the marijuana plant itself.
The group of senators includes: Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Barbara Boxer of California, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Of the eight senators, Merkley, Wyden and Boxer have joined Booker and Gillibrand as co-sponsors of a bill that would reschedule marijuana to make it more available for medicinal and research purposes .
The entire letter can be found here .
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