Smucker Cosponsors Medical Marijuana Research Act

January 8, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Lloyd Smucker (PA-11) signed on to H.R 3797- Medical Marijuana Research Act, legislation to remove the barriers that currently hinder medical research on marijuana.

“Since coming to Congress, I have had numerous conversations with constituents, advocacy groups, and businesses regarding medical and recreational marijuana. These conversations have spanned topics ranging from decriminalization at the federal level, to providing access for our veterans, and allowing banking services for cannabis-related companies.

My position has always been that making medical marijuana available should be based on credible definitive medical benefits. These meetings led me to look deeper into current federal laws that could be creating barriers impeding legitimate medical research on medical marijuana.

That is why I cosponsored H.R. 3797. By removing some of the barriers that prevent the scientific community from conducting legitimate research on cannabis, we can improve our understanding of the effects of using cannabis for medicinal purposes. It is clear that states have exercised their Constitutional rights to allow for the use of Marijuana. As a result, we need to conduct clinical research to gain the data necessary to determine the value of making Marijuana an available treatment option. Marijuana should be treated like other drugs that receive market approval through the FDA.” Rep. Smucker says.

Currently, 47 states, including Pennsylvania, have legalized some form of cannabis, many under the label that it is medicinal. While there have been some promising results from using medical marijuana to manage symptoms related to epilepsy, PTSD, and other conditions, much of this research was produced with an inconsistent supply of differing strains of marijuana, yielding non-credible results. H.R. 3797 will allow qualified researchers to conduct consistent research that every FDA-approved medical treatment undergoes. This legislation does not change the legal status of cannabis, and does not interfere with federal, state or local cannabis laws.

Summary of the Medical Marijuana Research Act

The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019 addresses two major barriers currently faced by researchers who wish to conduct legitimate medical research with cannabis, a Schedule I drug. First, it creates a new, less cumbersome registration process specifically for marijuana, reducing approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review. Second, once researchers have been approved to conduct this research, this bill makes it easier for those researchers to obtain the cannabis they need for their studies through reforms in both production and distribution regulations. To this end, the bill also allows for the private manufacturing and distribution of cannabis solely for research purposes. Currently, the only marijuana available to be used in research legally comes from a single contract the National Institute on Drug Abuse holds with the University of Mississippi.

Bill will amend the Controlled Substance Act to make marijuana accessible for use by qualified marijuana researchers for medical purposes.
Production and Supply: Until the Secretary of HHS can identify manufacturers and distributors that will ensure a safe, consistent, and sufficient supply of marijuana for research, all product for research will be provided only through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Drug Supply Program.
Qualified Researchers: The bill notably creates a separate registration process to facilitate research with marijuana for medical proposes. To register, the applicant must submit the following and receive approval from the Attorney General:

The applicant must be authorized to dispense, or conduct research with respect to, controlled substances in schedules I, III, IV, V under the laws of the State in which the applicant practices.
The applicant is only using marijuana manufactured by a person registered under this bill.
The applicant’s research protocol has been reviewed and allowed by the Secretary of HHS, or the NIH or another Federal agency that funds scientific research. *NOTE: applicants must have experience in dispensing or conducting research involving controlled substances and may not have a federal or state conviction.
Then, once someone is registered and they want to begin research, before any marijuana can be supplied he Secretary of HHS must verify the researcher is registered by requiring them to submit documentation demonstrating they are approved by the Attorney General to conduct research with marijuana in accordance with the Controlled Substance Act.
Then, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, in consultation with the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse must issue guidelines on the production and research of marijuana and ensure compliance with the guidelines.