Congressman Wants Legal Protection For Higher Education Institutions Studying Cannabis

A Congressman from Colorado is urging lawmakers not to withhold funding for higher education institutions who study and research cannabis. Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) led 25 of his colleagues in a bipartisan letter to House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) requesting that the federal government give money to universities and colleges that study or research cannabis. In a letter, Neguse noted that many institutions in his district are studying and researching marijuana and its impact.

“Formal research is especially important as more states legalize medical marijuana. We need medical professionals who are equipped with the knowledge to competently discuss issues surrounding cannabis and health,” Neguse wrote in the letter, according to a press release. “Evidence-based research regarding cannabis ought to be encouraged in academic settings, not discouraged.” “Our constitutional framework has afforded the whole nation the chance to allow states to differ on many matters of public policy, including cannabis. As a result, that same framework should be extended to the protection of research of cannabis at higher education institutions,” the letter continued.

In a statement to The North Star Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert said that roadblocks to cannabis research have been in place for decades. These roadblocks have discouraged “researchers and institutions from conducting, housing, or funding studies out of fear that they will be punished.” “The threat of losing federal funding is one of the more commonly heard fears. Universities do not want to do anything that may jeopardize their funding, so they are foregoing potentially groundbreaking cannabis-related research out of fear that it might trigger reprisal from the federal government,” said Tvert.

Tvert said higher education institutions should not be afraid of conducting cannabis research because of the possibility they could be penalized for it. “Just as banks want to be reassured, through legal statute, that they will not face punishments for providing services to cannabis businesses, universities want to be reassured they will not be penalized if they authorize cannabis-related research. These institutions should not be impeded from conducting research into various facets of cannabis and cannabis policy,” Tvert said.

Neguse is not the only US Representative introducing bills involving cannabis. District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a bill in April that would allow the use of cannabis in federally assisted housing that complies with marijuana laws in the states.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.