SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, introduced Thursday a House version of bipartisan legislation to make it easier for researchers to study medicinal uses for marijuana.
"When presented with an opportunity to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted with painful disorders, we must take it. We don’t know all the answers when it comes to the effects of medical-grade marijuana," he said in a statement.
The legislation, Bishop said, allows scientists and researchers to get at those answers in a responsible way that isn’t hindered by unnecessary roadblocks. The bill has the backing of Utah's three other U.S. House members.
Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, filed the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act, in the Senate last September.
Hatch said he's pleased to see strong support from the Utah delegation.
"In Utah, we have seen the devastating scourge of the opioid epidemic firsthand, and this legislation will improve the process for researching medical marijuana’s potential as a safe and effective alternative treatment," he said.
The bill would make marijuana more available for legitimate research and streamline the onerous research registration process. It would require the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop recommendations for good manufacturing practices for growing marijuana for research.
It would also allow for the commercial production of drugs developed from marijuana once the Food and Drug Administration approves them.
The measure would not change the federal designation of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, narcotics the government deems have no medical use and a high possibility for addiction.
Two Florida congressmen introduced legislation last April that would make cannabis a Schedule III drug. Reclassifying marijuana could pave the way for more research and make it easier for sick people to obtain the drug, they say.6 comments on this story
Utah GOP Reps. Chris Stewart, Mia Love and John Curtis, as well as several Democrats, signed on as co-sponsors of Bishop's bill.
Love said she is aware of the desperation of parents whose children suffer from painful conditions like epilepsy as well as adults with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and cancer patients who are in pain.
"To allow for the study of how this may help those conditions, while maintaining important checks and protections, is something that as a Utahn and a mother I support," she said.