Former Prohibitionist Congressman Introduces Bill for Medical Marijuana Research

Former Prohibitionist Congressman Introduces Bill for Medical Marijuana Research
In a move that can only be described as stunning, former Republican marijuana prohibitionist, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced a bill in Congress which would encourage far greater research into the medical benefits of cannabis. On September 13, 2017, Sen. Hatch stood before his peers and delivered an impassioned speech about how cannabis has already demonstrated some very profound healing properties, as well as the ability to improve quality of life for people suffering from various kinds of chronic pain.

An abrupt philosophical change

In his words, “The federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” So what is responsible for this seeming about-face in Sen. Hatch’s philosophy? Apparently, the plight of a close friend figured strongly into his thinking, and even though he still opposes recreational use, his thinking about medical marijuana has indeed been drastically altered.

Sen. Hatch has an unnamed friend who had been forced to ingest nearly 20 pills a day to manage pain, and some of these were fairly powerful opioids. After trying medical cannabis, this friend was able to discard all the pills, including the opioids, and rely solely on the medical cannabis for full relief. Right before his own eyes, Hatch witnessed the near-miraculous effects of pain relief, as well as the extremely effective substitution of cannabis for opioids.

What’s included in the MEDS Act 

This is no lightweight, half-hearted bill introduced by Sen. Hatch – these are the highlights of the features included in the bill:

  • Requires the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota as soon as is practicable, in order to meet the changing medical needs of our society
  • Requires the National Institute on Drug Abuse to put forth ‘best practices’ recommendations for the growing and overall production of marijuana, with the expectation that crops would be then used for medical research
  • Make marijuana much more accessible for groups involved with legitimate research into medical marijuana, and for the production of marijuana derivative drugs which have FDA approval
  • Encourage more medical research into the uses of marijuana, specifically by streamlining the registration process and removing barriers to research. This would not be dependent on having marijuana re-classified from its current Schedule I status as a ‘dangerous drug’.
  • Prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from instituting any new requirements or protocols which would tend to inhibit research into the usage of medical marijuana.

Impact of the speech and the bill

The impact of Sen. Hatch’s bill could be far-reaching indeed. If passed, sorely needed research into medical marijuana should proceed at a much faster and less inhibited pace. It would also represent a concession by the federal government that medical cannabis can be an effective tool for many health conditions, and for fighting the opioid crisis. Lastly, it will be seen as one stark example of the changing attitude in our society over the unjust stigma formerly attached to the amazing cannabis plant.


Photo credit: Herb.co