Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday to introduce bipartisan legislation to study marijuana as a possible alternative to opioids.
Hatch says it's difficult to study cannabis because it's classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
In his draft floor remarks, Hatch spotlights impediments to research that currently exist because of marijuana's status under federal law.
"We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation," he will say. "Under current law, those who want to complete research on the benefits of medical marijuana must engage in a complex application process and interact with several federal agencies. These regulatory acrobatics can take researchers over a year, if not more, to complete. And the longer researchers have to wait, the longer patients have to suffer."
Cannabis is currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. That's the most restrictive category and is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Researchers have long complained that the classification creates additional hurdles that don't exist for studies on other substances.