A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Thursday advocated for the passage of a medical marijuana research bill.
The legislation spearheaded by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) would require the attorney general to assess whether there’s an adequate supply of research-grade cannabis annually for researchers and institutions to look into its medicinal uses.
Gaetz said that 25 members have signed on to the legislation, which has received the support of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“One of the reasons I’m so enthusiastic is that we really do have a broad base of support from this bill from Republicans and Democrats, from moderates, conservatives, liberals, libertarians,” Gaetz said.
“And I’m hopeful that by finding the area with the common ground, the theory that we ought to create protections for research, that we’ll be able to make some progress on this very important issue.”
Proponents of the bill argue medical marijuana could be beneficial for veterans, elderly people and those suffering from chronic illnesses.
“We know cannabis is good medicinally for a lot of things: epilepsy, seizures, cancer appetite. And you talk our veterans; they prefer cannabis to opioids,” Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) told reporters, adding countries including Israel and Canada have embraced using cannabis for medical purposes.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) said he believes it’s important that the government doesn’t stand in the way of studies looking into its potential benefits.
“We do need to learn more, we need more research,” he said. “What we don’t need is a federal government led witch hunt against those who are following state laws, those who want to conduct research and those who want to inform the public.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said she thinks it’s an area where both sides can come together to help advocate for the advancement of medicine.
“We may not agree on every aspect of cannabis legislation, but at the very least we should be able to conduct research and our veterans should be allowed to benefit from these trials that are also a part of this legislation,” she said.