Thirty members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) urging the federal agency to do more to “speed up and improve the research application process” for studies conducted on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

In the letter, the congresswomen and men point out that 33 states have approved medical cannabis in some form and have implemented legal programs. They also note that the Food and Drug Administration has set a precedent for admitting the medical benefits of cannabis and its potential by approving the drug Epidiolex, a medication containing CBD that is used to treat seizures. The legislators say that due to the ongoing classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance, gaining federal approval for more cannabis research will continue to be “an arduous and long” process.

“One who wishes to engage in this research must at the very least work with three separate federal entities – the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), DEA, and FDA. Approval is required by FDA, which includes a site inspection, and FDA,” the letter says.

The letter goes on to urge the DEA and other federal agencies to speed up the research application process, in an attempt to convey the importance and gravity of the matter.

“We urge you then to go beyond these steps and do whatever you can to speed up and improve the research application process. Please let us know what you are considering to change the application process so it moves more quickly and what additional resources from Congress would help in that regard,” the congress members wrote.

Additionally, the letter contained four unanswered questions previously directed at the Justice Department. Those four questions include inquiries about the status of 26 cannabis manufacturer applications, the steps the Department of Justice and DEA have taken to review the applications, and when the agencies expect completion of the reviews.  

These applications were reportedly blocked from any further action by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Making an appearance before Congress in April, however, current Attorney General William Barr said those applications would get the chance for review.

It is certainly a positive thing for advocates of medicinal cannabis to see these congresswomen and men putting some pressure on federal agencies who have been dragging their feet on the issue for far too long. Only time will tell how effective these members of congress will be when it comes to furthering the advancement of getting research applications approved, or at the very least reviewed.