While more and more states in the U.S. are moving towards legalizing marijuana for medical or even recreational purposes, on the federal level, the plant remains forbidden. Cannabis prohibition has lots of negative consequences, especially for the scientists. The problem is that as long as weed remains illegal, scientists cannot conduct any studies with people being involved as participants, even in the states with medical marijuana being already legalized. And this means that there will be no viable data on medical cannabis safety and efficacy in human patients.
In May, there were a few attempts to change the way things are. There were two amendments to the bill meant to create a task force, including DEA, FDA, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy along with other agencies. The main goal of that task force is to “review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.” The first of the amendments sponsored by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) suggested that marijuana should be also studied for its potential to serve as an alternative to opioid painkillers.
The second of the two amendments was sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, too. This measure would have required both NIH and CDC to study marijuana's medical potential for pain management along with the one of the opioid painkillers. Polis insisted that the effect of both types of medications should be studied not only for their efficacy but for their possible addictiveness as well. The other thing the measure would have required was a federal comparison of the levels of overdose deaths between the states that allow medical cannabis and the states where medical weed remains prohibited.
Unfortunately, the U.S. House Rules Committee did not support any of the two amendments.
There was one more attempt to make life a bit easier for patients who use marijuana as an alternative for their standard medications. An amendment sponsored by Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA), Bob Dold (R-IL), and Jared Polis, again, would have legalized cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD-rich plants on a federal level. It means that the plants with a high level of CBD and a low level of THC, including CBD-rich marijuana strains that are usually used for treating kids with epilepsy, would have been reclassified and were no longer regulated as marijuana. Unfortunately, this amendment was not supported either.