Newspaper article Roll Call

Marijuana Foes, Friends Agree on Need for Research

Newspaper article Roll Call

Marijuana Foes, Friends Agree on Need for Research

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Marijuana Foes, Friends Agree on Need for Research

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* By Todd Ruger

* Roll Call Staff

* May 21, 2015, 3:58 p.m.

House appropriators have a bipartisan curiosity about pot.

Lawmakers added a provision to the fiscal year 2016 Commerce- Justice-Science spending bill that would direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to research how well medical marijuana works.

Outspoken House members from both sides of the medical marijuana debate back the effort because both sides expect the science to support their position.

Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., a physician and House Appropriations Committee member who last year said, "This is not a medicine," in a floor debate, worked to include the provision in the bill. The language became part of the $51.4 billion C-J-S bill in an 11-page manager's amendment on Wednesday.

"He believes that our drug policy should be based on sound science, which is sorely lacking in the medical efficacy of marijuana," Harris spokeswoman Shelby Hodgkins said. "More research needs to be done on the medical efficacy of marijuana."

Harris last year was emphatic during a floor debate. "There is more and more evidence every day that it's not safe," he said.

He has read study after study on the devastating effects of marijuana use, especially on developing brains of teenagers, Hodgkins said.

But Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., a backer of medical marijuana laws, believes the evidence shows that marijuana is effective in treating certain conditions but more research would help, an aide said.

"Federal policies have prevented significant research into the benefits of medical marijuana," Farr spokesman Adam Russell said. "If we can finally do that research, [Farr] thinks the science will support what many patients have seen: That medical marijuana has a place in our society."

Under the fiscal 2016 spending bill, the DEA would have to review its rules about research on medical marijuana and "determine ways to facilitate further research through streamlining the DEA approval process. …

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