Group of U.S. Senators Continue Pressing Federal Agencies on Cannabis Research

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is leading a group of eight senators in pressing the federal government on the issue of scientific research on marijuana.

The group is pressing for answers from federal agencies regarding why the government has failed to move forward on enacting policies to enable research on the medical benefits of cannabis.

In a letter sent Monday, the lawmakers wrote:

“There are currently numerous federal and state regulatory barriers to researching marijuana. This regulatory scheme which limits medical marijuana research is outdated and in desperate need of serious and immediate review. These problems are only exacerbated by a lack of coordination between the agencies and states.”

The letter was addressed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These agencies provided a briefing for lawmakers last month that apparently “failed to answer key substantive questions.”

The lawmakers are pressing the agencies on a number of issues, including:

  • Why the University of Mississippi maintains a monopoly on the ability to grow cannabis for research purposes
  • Why marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification reserved for drugs that have no medical value, despite the FDA’s recommendation that it be reclassified
  • Better coordination between agencies and between states

The group comprises Warren, Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). They had initially written to the agencies in June but were unsatisfied with the response.

“We must ensure that our public policy regarding medical marijuana is guided by the best science available, and in the absence of that science we must ensure that we are taking swift and deliberate steps to facilitate the research that provides for it,” the letter states.

For more on this topic, see Tom Angell’s recent article on

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder

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