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Universities Researching Cannabis Could Finally Get Legal Protection From Lawmakers

Apr 26, 2019

Universities Researching Cannabis Could Finally Get Legal Protection From Lawmakers

Leo Bear-McGuinness
Science Writer
@LeoMcBear

A bipartisan group of US Congress representatives have urged the House to protect universities that conduct cannabis research from being penalized under federal law.

In a letter submitted to the chairwoman and ranking member a House subcommittee, Representative Joe Neguse (D) and 25 colleagues asked that an upcoming bill include specific language that would prohibit the Department of Education from withdrawing federal funds to punish universities participating in cannabis research.

“Currently, there are a multitude of higher education institutions conducting a range of cannabis-related research, including many in my district, that would like to champion future cannabis developments within an accredited educational setting,” writes Neguse

“Formal research is especially important as more states legalize medical marijuana.”

Championing the need to better inform US doctors and nurses on cannabis’ medical benefits, Neguse states that, “we need medical professionals who are equipped with the knowledge to competently discuss issues surrounding cannabis and health. Evidence-based research regarding cannabis ought to be encouraged in academic settings, not discouraged.”

To help encourage this research, Neguse and lead co-author Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R) have asked that the House Appropriations subcommittee include the following specific language in the upcoming FY2020 Labor-HHS appropriations bill to protect research institutes from retribution:

“None of the funds provided by this Act or provided by previous Appropriations Acts to the Department of Education shall be withheld from an institute of higher education solely because that institute is conducting or is preparing to conduct research on marihuana as defined in 21 U.S.C. § 802 (16).”

Currently, US universities must comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, which requires all universities that receive federal funding to adopt drug prevention programs. Adhering to the Act prevents employees and students from possessing, using, and distributing illicit drugs and alcohol on its property or as part of its activities.

“These has been no statement from the Department of Education suggesting that enforcement of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act has been, or will be, relaxed – even in jurisdictions that otherwise regulate cannabis or at institutions on these jurisdictions that wish to research it,” according to Neguse’s letter. 

Other lawmakers who signed the letter include Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Don Young (R-AK). 

 

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