Senate Committee Slams Marijuana's Federal Classification, Saying Schedule I Blocks Research

A key U.S. Senate committee says that marijuana’s current federal classification blocks scientific research on its effects —something that legalization advocates have long argued.

Photo by Tom Sydow

Photo by Tom Sydow

“The Committee is concerned that restrictions associated with Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act effectively limit the amount and type of research that can be conducted on certain Schedule 1 drugs, especially marijuana or its component chemicals and certain synthetic drugs,” the Senate Appropriations Committee wrote in a new report under the headline, “Barriers to Research.”

“At a time when we need as much information as possible about these drugs, we should be lowering regulatory and other barriers to conducting this research.”

Schedule I is the most restrictive category under federal law, and is supposed to be reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no medical value. Researchers wishing to study substances classified there must overcome procedural hurdles that don’t exist for other drugs.

The Senate panel is directing the National Institute on Drug Abuse to “provide a short report on the barriers to research that result from the classification of drugs and compounds as Schedule 1 substances.”

The directive is part of a report attached to a bill to fund the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services for Fiscal Year 2019, approved by the committee last week.

This isn’t the first time the panel highlighted the problems federal law poses for cannabis researchers. The senators included similar language in last year’s version of the annual report for the health agency funding bill.

Curiously, the language slamming Schedule I’s research roadblocks has been consistently requested by a group whose membership list contains some of the nation’s leading anti-legalization advocates.

But while the Senate committee has approved a

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