Today, the Judiciary Committee of congress is voting on the Medical Cannabis Research Act. The proposed legislation is sponsored by a Republican, Mathew Gaetz, and 40 more cosponsors from both sides of the house. The Medical Cannabis Research Act is primarily intended to remove the legal barriers to the licensing of other producers of marijuana for research purposes. Other related issues are also included in this landmark legislation.
Players in cannabis medical research have previously complained that the single grower (University of Mississippi) of the plant is often unable to supply cannabis of an acceptable quality and volume for the different facilities involved in studying how this plant can be used to treat different health challenges. This frustrates the researchers and slows down their work.
The fact that the act is up for a vote in a congressional committee is itself a victory since the Republican Party has traditionally been opposed to any form of cannabis legalization. The timing of the bill is also favorable given that President Trump has voiced his support for cannabis law reforms.
However, a cloud still hangs over how the vote will go since several objections still exist to some of the provisions within the proposed law. For example, the requirement that manufacturers should get the approval (i.e. letter of good standing) of the law enforcement agencies in their areas of operation has taken some flak since enforcement agencies have been vocal about their objection to cannabis reforms.
Concern has also been raised about the provision which seeks to bar anyone with a drugs conviction from participating in the permitted aspects of the cannabis industry. This, reform advocates are convinced, is geared at excluding large sections of the African American and other minorities who have borne the brunt of drugs enforcement efforts.
Nevertheless, some sections of cannabis stakeholders view the legislation with positive lenses. Matt Gaetz, for example, sees this law as the first step in the right direction, its imperfections notwithstanding. With different states passing their own cannabis legislation, it is only a matter of time before broader reforms are instituted at the federal level. The Gaetz bill is therefore seen as one of the key steps to dismantling the prohibition wall around cannabis.
Observers don’t expect major changes to be made to this bill since it was carefully drafted to include concessions that address the interests of those on both sides of the debate. The question on everyone’s mind is how that bill will pass at the committee level and the impact of the discussions in the committee on how the entire house will receive that bill. Industry players like BLOCKStrain Technology Corp. (TSX.V: DNAX) (OTC: BKKSF) and Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) are keeping a keen eye on this matter since their businesses could greatly benefit from a favorable congressional vote.
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