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Republican Bill Would Get People Off Opioids and Into Cananbis and Psychedelics, Wait, What?


Republican anti opioid team

Proposed policy reform by the Republicans seeks to allow Schedule 1 drugs like marijuana and psilocybin to be researched by multiple researchers without the long process of seeking individual permission from the DEA.


A group of companion bills is set to be introduced to the House and Senate by the Republicans. These bills could unlock the doors to a unique Anti-opioid plan and introduce the concept of in-depth research for cannabis, psychedelics, and other prohibited substances in the Schedule 1 class.

GOP members in Congress proposed a new bill called Halt All Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl. This bill would kickstart a deeper study of Schedule 1 substances. The Republicans who filed these companion bills are Senator Bill Cassidy, Bob Latta, and Representative Morgan Griffith. Both of them drafted the bills asked on a plan which was announced by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).


An Anti-opioid Stance

Rep. Griffith explained that the research provision in the bills was a vital way of correcting the mistakes made in previous bills. In the past, substances on Schedule I were totally banned without in-depth research being conducted to ascertain whether or not the substances could be modified to create better medical substances. For instance, ever since cannabis has been placed on the list, researchers have found it challenging to investigate the medical potential and other impacts of the compounds present in the drug.

Asides from Marijuana, other drugs like Fentanyl and its analogs could have therapeutic potentials. However, the best way to know this is through careful research. Pending the time more facts would be established concerning these drugs, they would remain prohibited. These prohibitions would protect the communities against the harmful imports of the drug.


The HALT Fentanyl Act

Fentanyl is one of the deadliest and addictive opioids circulating around the United States right now. According to a statement published by Representative Griffith, Fentanyl can be blamed for at least 60% of the total overdose cases in recent years.

In the statement, Griffith stated that opioid-like Fentanyl are fueling the flames of the opioid crisis, which is ransacking communities and families around the country. The main objective of this bill is to reduce the illicit sales and use of fentanyl. This bill seeks to permanently classify fentanyl in the Schedule 1 category of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The proposal would also incorporate the registration process for investigating Schedule I substances with the criteria for researching Schedule II drugs, which are far easier to study. Griffith added that the bill recognizes the ills associated with fentanyl use and aims to prohibit the drug without halting the research into the effects and dangers of the drug and other drugs in its class.


More Research for Schedule 1 Substances

The schedule 1 category is the CSA is the strictest federal drug category. Drugs under this label are prohibited for use, sales, production, and possession. They can also not be researched except permission is obtained from the proper agencies. The similar measures by Cassidy and Griffith would streamline the experimental procedures for drugs like LSD, mescaline, MDMA, cannabis, and every other drug with a Schedule 1 label.

Since this information has been disclosed, some reform advocates have expressed concerns about the proposed inclusion of fentanyl-derived substances in the schedule 1 category. Regardless of this, the other provisions in the bills have been commended because the existing laws related to the research of Schedule 1 controlled substances are more of a constraint to limit necessary research.

With the new bills, the exact research requirements for schedule II drugs will be adopted for schedule I drugs. As it stands now, each scientist involved in the study of Schedule I Substances has to obtain permits from the DEA. If these companion bills are passed, multiple researchers will be able to investigate a substance with a single and straightforward registration.


Other Proposed Changes

The bills also propose a change in the requirement of individual registrations for all research institutes where these substances are being studied. Instead, a single registration would serve multiple research locations.

Another necessary provision is that it would also exempt some research sites from additional inspections and allow researchers to produce small amounts of drugs without obtaining separate registrations. However, the cultivation of marijuana would be prohibited.

Certain researchers would be allowed to carry on with their studies after obtaining a permit from the Department of Justice instead of holding on for DEA officials to accept their research proposals.


Endorsed by the DEA and NIDA

Some weeks ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) disclosed that they support these recommendations. The DEA has also proposed increasing the cultivation and production of psilocybin, marijuana, and other psychedelics for experimental purposes. This proposal aligns with the agency’s development of a new approved list of therapeutic drugs for the country.

Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA, told an online publication that the recent proposals made by the DEA are encouraging. She added that the existing protocols prevent her from investigating the potential risks and benefits of cannabis personally. With more studies aiming to demonstrate the medical potential of psychedelics, many would be willing to experiment with psilocybin and other related substances.

The Biden Administration is also making the process smooth. In November, President Biden approved an infrastructure bill that allows scientists to study cannabis plants which are being sold at state-legal dispensaries. In the past, only government-grown cannabis plants were analyzed.


Final Note

Existing research points that many of these drugs have therapeutic values for specific medical conditions; however, the government is still not convinced to decriminalize these substances. With these new bills, which share an objective of promoting research on these drugs, the government will soon have enough incentive to delist these drugs, especially cannabis, from Schedule I. Till then, researchers are to study more, while cannabis and reform advocates are to encourage more bodies to introduce cannabis in the production of several medicines and consumables.






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