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The House Judiciary Committee Just Told Jeff Sessions to Stop Obstructing Cannabis Research

Will the Medical Cannabis Research Act make it to the House floor?

KEVIN DIETSCH/picture alliance / Consolidated/NewscomKEVIN DIETSCH/picture alliance / Consolidated/NewscomNearly two years after the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it would license additional producers of research cannabis, the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would require Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop obstructing the DEA's review of 26 applications from potential marijuana manufacturers.

The Medical Cannabis Research Act, introduced in April by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.), would require the Department of Justice to federally license at least two additional manufacturers of research cannabis. Since University of Mississippi pharmacologist Mahmoud ElSohly currently possesses one such license, the bill calls for at least three concurrent licenses. "This legislation creates a safe harbor for universities and medical institutions to engage in research," Gaetz said during Thursday's hearing.

Although the bill was introduced by a Republican and had the support of conservative committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.), several Democrats on the committee voted against it because of language barring license holders from employing anyone convicted of felony or misdemeanor drug charges. The bill requires manufacturers to "have completed a criminal background check for all personnel involved in the operations of the manufacturer pursuant to this subsection to confirm that such personnel have no conviction for a felony or drug-related misdemeanor."

"Any restriction on misdemeanors goes in the exact contrary direction of the Second Chance Act, which we'll be taking up later this morning," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–N.Y.) said during the hearing. If the concern is that people convicted of drug offenses will divert research marijuana to the black market, he added, "there's no shortage of marijuana in this country. It's absurd." Rep. Steve Cohen (D–Tenn.) and several other Democratic members of the committee joined Nadler in objecting to the misdemeanor provision.

Gaetz offered to revisit the hiring restrictions once the bill makes it to the House floor. But he added that the requirement was proposed by members of the cannabis industry, who feel such a restriction will help legitimize their work and ensure the "integrity" of their research.

"Let's be real," Nadler responded. "The 'integrity' of the research will be determined by peer review, not who grows some of the materials for use in the research."

The bill passed the committee by a voice vote despite these objections.

The bill gives the attorney general a full year to review applications, after which he may delay a decision by requesting supplementary information from applicants.

"The federal government should not stand in the way of collaboration that can help people live better lives," Gaetz told Marijuana Moment's Tom Angell.

Should this bill go to the House floor, survive the amendment process, be passed by the Senate, and signed by Trump, it won't necessarily end Sessions' obstruction of cannabis research. But it's a good start from a group of Republican and Democratic House members who want Sessions to get the hell out of the way.

Photo Credit: KEVIN DIETSCH/picture alliance / Consolidated/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ha, what a kick in the teeth if Trump were to sign something like this.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Should this bill go to the House floor, survive the amendment process, be passed by the Senate, and signed by Trump, it won't necessarily end Sessions' obstruction of cannabis research. "

    Our fed-DA-Dude does not believe in the rule of law, I strongly suspect.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He's been in Washington long enough to know that rule of law is just a fairy tale for the particularly gullible masses.

  • damikesc||

    Good luck with that, guys.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    BREAKING NEWS!!!!

    Brett Kavanaugh has a mysterious #MeToo problem
    And "federal investigative authorities" are involved.

    I've been saying for weeks this man is a totally unacceptable Supreme Court nominee. This is the latest major scandal — following the baseball ticket controversy, the handshake snub, and the white power gestures — that demonstrates this fact. Call your Senators and tell them to vote "No"!

    #CancelKavanaugh
    #MeToo

  • Tony||

    I want to see him as a simple potato-faced college Republican type who married his first and only sweetheart and coaches kids (did I mention coach? Coach coach coach). But honestly I have to come down on the side of rapey looking and sadistic. The gambling addiction was a surprise though.

  • Just Say'n||

    Not all baseless conspiracy theories are the same. Some get spread by the mainstream media, while others are ignored because they complicate the narrative.

  • perlchpr||

    It's also the "hacker problem". Sometimes, your best potential employees are people who have gotten busted doing the thing you need done.

  • Eddy||

    Is it Done Dirt Cheap?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Sure looks like somebody is worried sick about Libertarian spoiler votes. But at the bottom of that fake liberalization bill is language adding layers of bureaucratic kowtowing and bootlicking, plus verbiage that preserves the Controlled Substances act. Ordinary ethanol is also "legal," but chemists in police labs buy Evercleer from a liquor store instead of filing the mountains of paperwork needed to obtain chemically pure alcohol through channels.

  • Just Say'n||

    If the only reason to vote for a Libertarian candidate is for marijuana legislation then the Libertarian Party is perhaps the worst messenger ever

  • Homple||

    The House Committee needs to find Sessions before talking to him. Maybe they're the ones putting his picture on milk cartons.

  • Homple||

    The House Committee needs to find Sessions before talking to him. Maybe they're the ones putting his picture on milk cartons.

  • Homple||

    The House Committee needs to find Sessions before talking to him. Maybe they're the ones putting his picture on milk cartons.

  • Homple||

    Squirrels.

  • Tony||

    "You mean lunch?"

    --Jefferson Davis Beauregard Hootenanny Messasumpthin' Sessions

  • Longtobefree||

    Or, in a more direct manner, they could cut all DEA funding in the next budget - - - - - - - - - -

  • Rich||

    "The federal government should not stand in the way of collaboration that can help people live better lives," Gaetz told Marijuana Moment's Tom Angell.

    HATE SPEECH!

  • Diane Gracely||

    Thank you Republican Matt Gaetz for sticking to your agenda and truly caring
    about us sick and disabled people who can benefit from Cannabis research.
    This has not been an easy road and I personally appreciate R- Matt Gaetz
    for sticking to his work and fighting for what is right for a natural plant that
    is already changing lives in the medical cannabis legal states. I'm from Florida,
    I'm also a medical cannabis patient and advocate. Cannabis has given me
    a much better life. I'm off of opiates, and using cannabis, and feeling so much
    better. Had I continued on opiates I would have died. I had been on them for 20+
    years. I could barely eat anymore, I had lost so much weight and opiates were
    not helping my chronic pain anymore. I have gained weight and I am healthier
    than I have been in many years. I can eat now, I have a lot less pain, which allows
    me to function better in society, and take care of myself.
    I've seen friends go from dying from cancer to living life again with cancer in remission.
    We definitely need more cannabis research for this natural plant.
    We patients are tired of Big Pharma and their DRUGS. Pharmaceutical drugs have so
    many side effect and then doctors put us on more and more drugs to counteract
    the other drugs and their side effects. Cannabis has NO side effects that risk our lives
    like Big Pharma's drugs do. Let's move forward, let's do more research on cannabis NOW.
    Let's SAVE more LIVES. Cannabis does not kill anyone, Big Pharma drugs do.

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