Congress Sends Burwell Letter to Study Pot

Burwell Letter

The political climate in Washington has never been so bitter and toxic than it is today. It seems there is almost nothing congress can agree on. So imagine the surprise when Sylvia Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services, received a letter from a bipartisan collection of 30 congressional members requesting more marijuana research.

The collection of congressional representatives were led by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), and most notably Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.); one of the representatives responsible for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment that hopes to restrict DEA funding for prosecuting medical marijuana users and dispensaries.

“We write to express our support for increasing scientific research on the therapeutic risks and benefits of marijuana,” the letter reads. “We ask that you take measures to ensure that any non-National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded researcher who has acquired necessary Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Institutional Review Board (IRB), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and appropriate state and local authority approval be able to access marijuana for research at-cost without further review.”

Currently under federal law marijuana is a schedule 1 drug in the drug scheduling system, which means that marijuana is considered the most dangerous kind of drug and that it has no known medical use. This laughably ridiculous classification may be in step with the 1940s style of Reefer Madness, but unfortunately the law is still the law; and under this law a Catch-22 style scenario comes into play.

Cannabis is a schedule 1 drug so it cannot be used federally for medical purposes until more scientific information becomes available, but no scientific research can be approved because it cannot be used for medical purposes. This kind of circular reasoning has even the dimmest of light bulbs flickering in confusion, which is why congress is petitioning the HHS to remove the research roadblocks.

There is one research center that is an exception to this rule. The legal medical marijuana research center at the University of Mississippi was selected in 1968 as the one and only legal marijuana farm in the United States. However, according to McClatchy DC, the research conducted at that facility has been more focused on finding adverse effects of marijuana rather than finding its benefits.

It remains to be seen whether or not Secretary Burwell will listen to the bipartisan collection of congressional members, but hopes are high. With 22 states and the District of Columbia having legalized medical marijuana, it will be very hard for Secretary Burwell to ignore the clamoring cries of her fellow citizens.

When marijuana does get reclassified, there will be tremendous opportunity for the herbal entrepreneur. There is a lot of money to be made in academic research for the clever individual that can muster up a decent grant proposal, and that opportunity should be arriving sooner than later.


Source: The Huffington Post

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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