Sen. Orrin Hatch is suggesting that federal prohibition could be preventing key research into the effectiveness of medical marijuana.
A century of misinformation and propaganda has made it hard for marijuana to be fully recognized for its potential as a medicine. Research remains stalled due to marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule I substance. But it’s hard to tell thousands that their experiences are simply wrong and that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin. Even if it took a while, it’s clear our country has changed its view on marijuana.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) may be showing us just how much views on marijuana have shifted. The veteran senator, not exactly known for his liberal views on marijuana, may be on the verge of becoming one of the most important voices in the push to open up research on marijuana. Today, he made a speech criticizing the limitations researchers face due to marijuana being a Schedule I drug.
“While I certainly do not support the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the evidence shows that cannabis possesses medicinal properties that can truly change people’s lives for the better,” Hatch will say according to marijuana advocate and Forbes contributor, Tom Angell. “And I believe, Mr. President, that we would be remiss if we threw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Hatch also has a new bill that could put his words into action. The Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017 would lift many of the restrictions researchers face when trying to access marijuana to examine. The MEDS Act would also require the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop guidelines for growing, processing, and researching medical marijuana. No such recommendations exist despite legal marijuana’s rapid expansion.
In another portion of Hatch’s statement, the Senator is direct about previous mistakes made by the government on 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. 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.”
Enacting federal reform could still be a tall order as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has made it very clear that he is not a fan of legalized marijuana in any capacity. But with the vast majority of the public supporting medical marijuana and a respected GOP senator such as Hatch pushing for a new direction, could we finally be on the brink of historic change to federal policy?