Wyden and Merkley look to loosen marijuana research restrictions

Oregon’s two U.S. senators have joined a drive to reschedule marijuana as cannabis becomes more widely accepted as a medical treatment.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced last week three federal agencies will consider whether to move marijuana from “Schedule 1” of the federal government’s controlled substance list.

Schedule 1 is the most tightly restricted portion of the controlled substances list.

Three federal agencies told a group of senators they want to “release a determination” in 2016 about whether to reschedule marijuana.

The agencies are the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The move could help enable more medical marijuana research.

The rescheduling could take place in the first half of 2016.

The agencies also, in the letter to senators, suggested ways more growers could be added to provide medical marijuana for research.

“The federal government should reduce barriers to researching the potential medical benefits of marijuana, and rescheduling it is the first essential step in that process,” Wyden said.