A top-ranking Democratic senator known as into query the therapeutic worth of marijuana on Tuesday whereas additionally making a broader level about how the federal drug classification system inhibits medical analysis.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the feedback throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee listening to on the opioid epidemic and federal strikes to limit highly effective fentanyl analogues.

Earlier than entering into his views on the potential penalties of completely putting these opioids in Schedule I of the Managed Substances Act (CSA), Durbin, the Senate Democratic whip, took a success at medical cannabis.

“My state simply determined in the previous few days to make marijuana authorized in my state for leisure functions, beginning January 1,” he mentioned, referencing the passage of a cannabis legalization invoice by way of the Illinois legislature final week. “We’ve had medical marijuana. I’ve been to a kind of clinics. It was nearly a laughing matter.”

“The medical claims they make about marijuana go manner past something that’s been confirmed,” he mentioned. “There aren’t any medical trials occurring.”

Watch Durbin’s medical cannabis feedback round 1:00:00 into the video beneath:


Durbin’s views on medical cannabis and marijuana reform generally are at odds with these expressed by a lot of his Democratic colleagues—to not point out a majority of voters. He mentioned earlier this yr that he opposed criminalizing cannabis use, however he cautioned in opposition to the opposite “excessive” of legalizing the plant.

Legalization advocates took difficulty with Durbin’s characterization of medical cannabis.

“Senator Durbin’s feedback surrounding the efficacy and therapeutic advantages of cannabis are ignorant at greatest and merciless at worst,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, instructed Marijuana Second. “There are over 30,000 peer-reviewed research hosted on pubmed.gov on the consequences of cannabis, together with many exhibiting declines in circumstances of opioid abuse and overdose fatalities.”

“If Mr. Durbin is critical about addressing the opioid disaster, then he ought to not disparage the position or lives saved that authorized marijuana can play,” Stekal mentioned.

Michael Liszewski, principal of The Enact Group, a lobbying and consulting agency that focuses on cannabis, instructed Marijuana Second he agrees that the “Schedule I standing has prevented extra strong medical cannabis analysis,” however that “it’s disappointing that Senator Durbin is characterizing it as a ‘laughing matter.’”

“To suggest that sufferers must look sick sufficient in an effort to receive aid from medical cannabis ignores no less than two factors: First, many illnesses which might be handled by medical cannabis aren’t readily seen to observers, equivalent to Crohn’s, lupus, and PTSD (all of that are qualifying circumstances in Illinois). And second, it ignores the very actual risk that these people look wholesome as a result of their medical cannabis remedy is offering them with profit.”

David Mangone, director of presidency affairs and counsel at People for Protected Entry, additionally criticized the lawmaker’s remarks.

“Senator Durbin’s feedback concerning the medical cannabis program in Illinois are an insult to the 1000’s of individuals in his state’s program who use cannabis as a life-saving medication,” he instructed Marijuana second.

“Ignoring the truth that there are practically 400 [National Institutes of Health] supervised medical trials on cannabis both underway or recruiting members, and evaluating cannabis to fentanyl analogues, is disingenuous, ill-informed, and harmful for public coverage,” Mangone mentioned.

Whereas the senator was dismissive of medical cannabis on the listening to, arguing that we “aren’t establishing whether or not marijuana is in actual fact medically applicable in so many circumstances the place they declare they’re,” he additionally mentioned that the Schedule I standing of cannabis is the explanation, in his view, that proof about its therapeutic advantages of cannabis is inadequate.

“Why don’t they [research cannabis]? As a result of we’ve moved marijuana to Schedule I—the identical place we’re about to maneuver all fentanyl analogues,” he mentioned.

“Below a blanket Schedule I framework, which is being requested for at present, we might imperil analysis into extra highly effective naloxone—a stronger and higher remedy to avoid wasting lives of those that have used fentanyl analogues,” he added. “Is that what we need to do? I don’t suppose so.”

Liszewski mentioned there “merely was no want for the senator to slander medical cannabis remedy whereas making his legitimate level about how Schedule I standing harms medical analysis.”

Durbin later questioned the Drug Enforcement Administration’s opioid manufacturing quota, stating that there’s no must manufacture such a excessive quantity of prescription painkillers. In one among his closing remarks, he made a play on a Reagan-era anti-drug message.

It’s time to say no,” he mentioned. “Simply say no—to pharma when they need that type of manufacturing.”

Although the senator made his ideas on the scheduling system clear, he’s up to now declined to signal on to laws that may amend the difficulty, by rescheduling or descheduling cannabis. In actual fact, Durbin has solely cosponsored two marijuana-focused payments over the course of his 36 years in Congress up to now.

One would have required the DEA to conduct medical trials on cannabidiol ( CBD) and later decide whether or not the compound ought to be a managed substance. The opposite would have allowed defendants in federal court docket circumstances to introduce proof exhibiting that any marijuana exercise was in compliance with a state medical cannabis legislation.

Notably, throughout his time within the Home, Durbin cosponsored the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which included provisions that expanded the criminalization of medicine in addition to a piece tied to the issue he complained about at Tuesday’s listening to. That provision amended the CSA “to offer that managed substance analogues shall be handled as a schedule I substance.”

“I respect Senator Durbin’s feedback about limiting federal analysis,” Don Murphy, director of federal insurance policies for the Marijuana Coverage Mission, instructed Marijuana Second. “I’d really feel even higher about it if he channeled that vitality and curiosity by placing his title on laws to repair the issue”

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Picture courtesy of Senate Judiciary Committee.

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