Press Release

Gillibrand: White House Right To Lift Barrier To Marijuana Research, But Obstacles For Medical Care Remain

Jun 22, 2015

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement on the White House proposal to eliminate the Public Health Service review, a requirement applied only to non-federally funded marijuana research. The process has long been considered an obstacle to research and no other substance is subject to similar requirements.

“The White House is right to lift a major barrier to conducting essential medical marijuana research. The onerous requirement took too long and cost too much to complete, discouraging research that would have furthered our understanding of medical marijuana and its potential treatment of illness and disease. The bipartisan legislation I introduced with Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker also sought to eliminate this bureaucratic step, and the announcement today is an encouraging sign that policy can move in the direction of science.

“However, other barriers remain. With the anticipated boost in research, we’ll need an adequate supply of marijuana samples that are only available through one provider. The CARERS Act would increase the number of licenses so that more providers can grow cannabis for research. Most urgently, patients and doctors in states with legal medical marijuana programs are still unable to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution. The CARERS Act would also modernize the laws and allow states to determine medical marijuana policy.

“The incremental progress is encouraging, but we need comprehensive reform to ensure that doctors and researchers have the tools they need to care for patients across the country.”

The decision comes the same week when the Senate Drug Caucus is scheduled to hold a hearing on cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic component of medical marijuana which some families use to treat their children’s seizures. Witnesses will speak before the panel on Wednesday, July 24 at 9:30 AM in Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226.