Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced a bill on Wednesday to boost medical marijuana research, and said "it's high time to address research into medical marijuana."
The legislation, dubbed the MEDS Act, was cosponsored by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
According to Hatch's office, the legislation will encourage more research on the uses of medical marijuana and make the drug more available for research on the federal level. The legislation would also require Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana."
Sessions has opposed legalized marijuana, which is still illegal on the federal level. However, there have been no changes to federal policy on the drug, such as rescinding a memo that encourages the Justice Department to leave states alone that have legalized it in some form.
"I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful," Sessions said in a speech to law enforcement officers in March. "Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."
Hatch said federal regulations on medical marijuana "sometimes do more harm than good."
Neither Utah nor North Carolina have broad laws legalizing marijuana. The drug is legalized for recreational use in Colorado, and medicinal use in Delaware.
Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana.