Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) at the U.S. Capitol in November, 2014. Polis is one of four members of Congress to send a letter to Jeff Sessions expressing concern about delays in cannabis research. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

Congressmen query Sessions over reported cannabis research obstruction

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing concern about a reported move by the Justice Department to halt marijuana research.

The letter from Representatives Matt Gaetz, R-Florida; Dana Rohrabacher, R-California; Jared Polis, D-Colorado; and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon; referenced a Washington Post report from Aug. 15 that, citing unnamed Drug Enforcement Administration officials, stated the Department of Justice has effectively shut down plans put in motion a year ago to reduce barriers to marijuana research. As of early August, 22 entities applied for marijuana research manufacturing licenses, but none had been approved, DEA officials told The Cannabist earlier this month.

“It is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter provided to The Cannabist. “We write to inquire whether the allegations raised by the Post are true, and, if so, to understand the Department of Justice’s rationale in refusing to process these applications.”

The congressmen’s letter was first obtained and reported by Tom Angell, of Marijuana Majority and MassRoots.

Justice Department officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Each of the four congressmen has had their hands in several marijuana-related federal bills aimed at aspects such as rescheduling or descheduling what currently is a Schedule I substance; creating avenues for increased research; preserving existing state-based programs; and easing restrictions for banks and financial institutions to work with the industry.

Earlier this year, Blumenauer, Polis and Rohrabacher co-founded the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Read the letter from the Congress members