A Senate Appropriations Committee report issued on September 7 showed Senator interest in understanding the cannabis market more deeply through the implementation of a “National Testing Program for Schedule 1 Marijuana-Derived Products”. This development comes as part of a push from the Senate urging federal agencies to understand the potency and purity of cannabis for sale in the legal markets throughout the country.
The report specifically instructed the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency to study cannabis samples. They are looking for reliable, robust data that will help them develop adequate policy. Previously NIDA researched illicit cannabis but the institute has never analyzed cannabis samples from the state legal medical or adult-use markets.
The Committee suggested that NIDA conduct research both on legal and illicit cannabis to eventually inform policy. The Committee cites public health policy, drug abuse prevention, and the development of law enforcement tactics as the guidelines for this change in federal procedure.
A separate section of the same report addressed concerns with restrictions put on the type and amount of research that is allowed to be conducted on certain schedule 1 drugs like cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids. Through the document, the Committee directed NIDA to provide them with an update on how the classification (Schedule 1) of compounds and drugs like cannabis create barriers in research.
These advancements in understanding at the level of the Senate could be monumental in the formation of reliable policy for the cannabis industry. Unfortunately, it is yet to be determined how cannabis will be acquired from legal adult-use states. This could be accomplished by NIDA acquiring cannabis from legal dispensaries or, worst case scenario, bust dispensaries across the country for the sake of research. From a subjective point of view, it seems that the best course of action would be to work in conjunction with testing labs across the country to further understand the plant.