California has long been a harbinger of medical cannabis access. In 1996, it approved medical cannabis for patients with a physician’s recommendation, and in 2016, it legalized marijuana for all residents. Continuing to lead the way on this therapeutic treatment option, lawmakers are considering Assembly Bill 1996, which would establish a research program on the medical use of cannabis. It would be the first of its kind in the country.

“If approved, California would have its own cannabis research program, designed to develop and conduct studies intended to determine the general medical safety and efficacy of cannabis,” explains U.S. Pain Foundation’s Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith. “Among other duties of the study, the program would adopt medical guidelines through the expertise of clinicians and scientists and include outreach to patients with various medical conditions.”

Under AB 1996, the research program would address conditions such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, seizures or muscle spasm associated with a chronic, debilitating condition; the proposal may also research other serious illnesses. To ensure objectivity in evaluating all of the proposals outlined in the proposed measure, the program would use a peer review process modeled after the National Institutes of Health. Clinical and scientific activities relating to the program will take place mainly at the University of California campuses and partly at other postsecondary institutions.

“This research program has incredible potential to pave the way for how medical cannabis is used not only in California, but nationally for individuals living with varied diagnoses,” Smith states. “It’s very proactive legislation that promotes our understanding of how cannabis can be used for specific conditions.”

While introduced back in February of this year, the legislation has made little progress until now. As of deadline, the legislation was read a third time, ordered to the Assembly, where it saw concurrence on the Senate side, with amendments pending. U.S. Pain will continue to monitor the legislation’s progress. For more information about U.S. Pain’s position on medical cannabis, click here.