Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement during the Committee’s markup of the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 (H.R. 5634). This narrowly tailored, bipartisan bill is designed to facilitate and encourage federally-approved clinical trials testing the potential medicinal effects of chemicals found in the marijuana plant.

Chairman Goodlatte: The Controlled Substances Act and two international treaties provide the framework within which Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, are grown, manufactured, and researched.  Federal law also requires that before a new drug is allowed to enter the U.S. market, it must be demonstrated through adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to be both safe and effective for its intended uses.  Long ago Congress established this process, recognizing that it was essential to protect the health and welfare of the American people.

Until two months ago, no drug product made from marijuana has ever been shown to be safe and effective for human consumption.  In June, the Food and Drug Administration for the first time approved a drug that contains a purified substance derived from marijuana.  Epidiolex, an oral solution containing pure cannabidiol, was studied for several years during which scientific studies and supervised human trials were conducted and showed it to be safe and effective.  DEA is expected to act soon and allow this drug to be used for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older.  This demonstrates that the current system and implementation of the law is effective.  It ensures that valid and compelling scientific evidence is behind every safe and effective drug.

Federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health all support research into the potential medical utility of marijuana and its chemical constituents.  There are a variety of factors that influence whether and to what extent such research takes place. Some of the key factors—such as funding—are beyond the control of enforcement and regulatory agencies such as DEA.  However, one way this Committee and Congress can help to facilitate legitimate research involving marijuana is to take steps, within the framework of the CSA and U.S. treaty obligations, to increase the lawful supply of research-grade marijuana available to qualified scientists.

H.R. 5634 has a very narrow scope and is designed to facilitate and encourage qualified researchers to develop valid, verifiable scientific evidence about the potential medicinal value of marijuana.  It increases the number of federally-regulated marijuana manufacturers, solely for research purposes.   It also allows Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers to discuss with veteran patients their participation in federally-approved marijuana clinical trials.  No matter where each of us may fall on the issue of marijuana, this bill takes a reasonable and balanced approach toward ensuring marijuana, and particularly the over 100 cannabinoids it contains, can be studied by qualified researchers and institutions in a controlled manner to determine whether those substances have actual legitimate medical uses. The science derived from this research could improve the lives of citizens and even save lives.  We should not be afraid of science.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.