As the Indiana Chamber starts gearing up for discussions this summer on the subject of medical marijuana in the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services, things are heating up in Congress on the issue.

Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released what appears to be a bipartisan marijuana legislation reform bill last week that would give states the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders. The legislation does not seek to legalize marijuana, but instead proposes an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act. It would protect people who use marijuana as long as they comply with local, state or tribal laws.

President Trump has indicated that he may support the bill. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he has no plans to endorse a bill that legalizes marijuana.  However, he supports the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which includes the “Hemp Farming Act”. The hemp plant looks like marijuana, but it contains significantly lower levels of THC – the narcotic that produces a “high” among marijuana users. Industrial hemp is used to make everything from apparel, foods and pharmaceuticals to body care products, car dashboards and building materials.

“t’s time to figure it out and see where this market will take us,” McConnell said. “I think it’s an important new development in American agriculture.” The bill would legalize hemp production nationally and remove low-THC cannabis (hemp) from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act.

Representative Phil Roe (R-TN), a physician who chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, supported the Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 authored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MA). The bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to advance scientific and medical research into the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis usage on veterans suffering from diagnoses such as PTSD and chronic pain.

Roe said in a statement that he has heard enough anecdotal evidence on the benefits of cannabis to support collecting more evidence “just like any other drug” to see how it can benefit patients. “Until we have sound science behind whether or not medical cannabis is an effective treatment, we should not move forward with prescribing it,” he said. “And I believe the VA is uniquely equipped to conduct this important research.”

In 2017 the Indiana Chamber adopted the position that we oppose the legalization of marijuana in any form for recreational use. The Chamber also opposes the legalization of botanical marijuana for medical or therapeutic use, until a time when it’s efficacy and safety have been proven consistent through clinical trials.  The Chamber supports the use of isolated components of marijuana, cannabinoids or similar extracts for solely medicinal purposes if approved by the FDA for specific illnesses and diseases. 

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or email: [email protected]