This bill -- known as the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 -- would increase the number of cannabis manufacturers allowed to grow the substance for legitimate research purposes; authorize healthcare providers at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide recommendations to veterans regarding participating in federally-approved cannabis clinical trials; and create a “safe harbor” for VA researchers and VA-funded institutions studying medical cannabis and the patients in federally-approved medical cannabis clinical trials. It would not interfere with or change federal or state laws or law enforcement, or make any changes to cannabis’ legal status.
Starting in 2019, the Attorney General (AG) would be required to increase the number of manufacturers allowed to manufacture cannabis for legitimate research purposes from its current number of one to at least three.
Manufacturers authorized by the AG would be required to:
Comply with all applicable requirements of this legislation;
Limit the transfer and sale of any cannabis they manufacture under this legislation to researchers registered to conduct research with Schedule I controlled substances, preclinical research, and clinical investigations;
Transfer or sell any cannabis manufactured pursuant to this bill only with the prior, written consent of the AG;
Complete an application and review process for the bulk manufacture of schedule I controlled substances;
Have a process for storing and handling schedule I controlled substances that includes inventory control and security monitoring;
Be able to provide at least 10 unique plant cultivars to ensure plant diversity and scale up to produce bulk plant material on an uninterrupted basis to meet forecasted demand;
Hold a license to manufacture cannabis in each state in which they conduct operations;
Complete criminal background checks for all personnel involved in their operations, in order to confirm that they have no convictions for felonies or drug-related misdemeanors;
Have a letter of reference from state health and law enforcement authorities in whose jurisdictions they operate, affirming their good standing; and
Have the ability to test for and isolate at least 12 cannabinoids for the purposes of producing specific products for specific studies by compounding pharmacists or others, labeling, and chemical consistency
The AG would be responsible for conducting annual assessments to determine whether there’s an adequate and uninterrupted supply for cannabis for legitimate research purposes.
This legislation would also explicitly allow healthcare providers at the VA to: 1) provide information to veterans regarding participation in federally-approved cannabis clinical trials, and 2) to complete forms relating to veterans’ participation in federally-approved cannabis clinical trials.
It’d also allow healthcare providers and other VA employees to accept information regarding federally-approved cannabis clinical trials provided by individuals who are not VA employees, as long as they are researchers registered under the Controlled Substances Act to conduct research with schedule I controlled substances. Finally, this legislation would allow the VA to conduct medical cannabis research for the VA employees conducting the research are researchers registered under the Controlled Substances Act to conduct research with schedule I controlled substances.