President Trump has agreed to sign a bill, known as the “Right to Try Act,” which could make medical marijuana federally legal for terminally ill patients.
Right To Try was unanimously passed by the Senate last summer and by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 22, in a vote of 250 to 169.
The bill will legalize a wide range of potentially life-saving medications that have yet to go through the entire FDA-approval process. These medications will have already passed the first phase of clinical studies. Right to Try will only allow patients with potentially fatal conditions to try these medications.
Medical Cannabis is Included
Thanks to a clinical trial being conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Sciences (MAPS), medical cannabis appears to be one of the medications included in the legalization. While currently in the second phase of the FDA approval process, the MAPS trial is testing the effectiveness of smoking cannabis in veterans with PTSD.
Most US states already have their own form of Right to Try legislation. For example, Utah just recently passed a law that specifically addresses the right of terminally ill patients to use cannabis. However, because cannabis remains federally prohibited, even if the state allows it, attempting cannabis would still be in violation of federal law. The Right to Try bill will change that.
Eligibility to Partake in The Right to Try
It is still unclear of what illnesses qualify as potentially fatal. For example, Depression could be argued to be life-threatening considering the high rates of suicide among those who are diagnosed. It’s presumable that those smaller details will be settled on a state by state basis in ascendencies that have already passed their own version of ‘Right to Try’.
Nonetheless, in states that are deprived of their own local provisions, the new bill appears to leave plenty of room for interpretation and a possible conflict with local drug laws.
Under the expansive wording of the federal bill, no exact illnesses are referenced. Instead, an ‘eligible patient’ is defined as, “Diseases or conditions where the likelihood of death is high unless the course of the disease is interrupted; and Diseases or conditions with potentially fatal outcomes, where the endpoint of clinical trial analysis is survival.”
Patients must also have dissipated all existing treatment options and must be unable to participate in the ongoing trials investigating the drug they want access to. Furthermore, they must provide written consent from a qualified physician who does not stand to gain from the trial.
Trump Shows Full Support
The bill passed on Tuesday, May 22, after receiving some opposition from Democrats on Capitol Hill who presume that the law will erode the FDA’s processes.
President Trump is set to sign the bill within the next few days. His decision in supporting this act isn’t something he decided recently. In January, Trump even mentioned the bill in his State of the Union Address saying, “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try.”
Early Wednesday morning, Trump reiterated his support for the bill tweeting his intention to sign it into law.