The movement to legalize marijuana at the federal level hit a sizable roadblack with the election of Republican President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions has been a dogged defender of anti-drug initiatives, and has made drug enforcement a higher priority for his Department of Justice than it was in Obama’s administration.
Thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, the ranking Republican senator Orrin Hatch just co-sponsored legislation that would help pave the way for federal marijuana legalization.
Together with Democratic senators Brian Schatz and Chris Coons, as well as Republican senators Cory Gardner and Thom Tillis, 83-year-old Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017, or MEDS Act, to Congress. The bill would make it easier for scientific research to be conducted on marijuana for medicinal purposes. It would also, in clear defiance of Sessions, “require the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana.”
Wrote the Mormon senator in an admirably pun-filled announcement to the press, “It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana. Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” Senator Hatch continued, “I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders. In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.” Are you glad this Republican senator is using his political capital to support marijuana research and legalization?