[MMA News Now, May 1, 2014]
Once appearing to be DOA, legislation to legalize marijuana for medical purposes has new life in both bodies of the Legislature.
The newest ripple came May 1 when the chief author of the House bill (HF 1818
) introduced an amendment
that calls for setting up “randomized clinical trials to investigate and report on the therapeutic effects of medical cannabis.” As part of this, patients involved in these trials could vape the drug but only in the presence of a “clinical investigator,” which means a physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse.
The term “clinical trial” has puzzled health care advocates who have reviewed the amendment because how they are described doesn’t follow what would normally occur in scientific trials. For example, the language allows for children to opt out of receiving a placebo, which would conflict results.
Only patients with qualified medical conditions could take part including: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy), severe and persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis), and Crohn’s disease.
The bill also calls for creating a 23-member task force that would assess the impact of the cannabis therapeutic research. It would be made up of senators, representatives, health commissioners, health care providers, law enforcement officials, consumers/patients (including parents of minor patients), state commissioners and substance abuse experts. This group would make progress reports on the research to the Legislature.
The amendment will be heard in the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee on May 2.
Meanwhile, the Senate version (SF 1641
) of the bill continues to progress through various committees. It passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 30 and before that through the Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, and the State and Local Government Committee.
To date, Gov. Mark Dayton, law enforcement officials and the MMA have not supported the Senate’s version of the legislation. The governor’s office has not weighed in on the new House amendment yet. It has been reported that law enforcement does not opposed it.
The MMA Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss the issue again, including the new House amendment, at its May 3 meeting.
In mid-March, the Board called for more studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids, and urged the drug’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance to be reviewed by the federal government with the goal of conducting clinical and public health research and developing cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.