GOP Leaders’ Bill Could Let Patients Use Medical Marijuana

A Republican-backed bill working its way through Congress could have the unintended consequence of allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana. Under legislation set to be voted on by the House of Representatives on March 20, 2018, patients with terminal diseases would be able to access drugs that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The proposal, known as the “Right to Try Act,” lays out certain criteria for what can be considered an “eligible investigational drug,” all of which marijuana appears to meet. In order to qualify, a drug has to have completed a phase 1 clinical trial, be under active development and not yet have been approved or licensed for any legal use by the federal government. An eligible medicine also needs to be the subject of an active investigational new drug application and under investigation in a clinical trial intended to form the basis of a claim of effectiveness in support of approval by the FDA.

Thanks to research being funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), cannabis seems to fit the bill. The organization, which began its quest for investigational new drug status for marijuana in 2010, is currently in the middle of Phase 2 clinical trials on the use of cannabis by military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The goal is to turn whole-plant marijuana into a legal, FDA-approved prescription medicine.

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