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On Thursday, the Senate gave a green light to a bipartisan marijuana bill meant to promote marijuana research, reported Marijuana Moment.
The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is titled Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act. It was reintroduced in February 2021, following an earlier version that passed the Senate in 2020.
The bill was approved unanimously, without debate, on the same day congressional leadership confirmed that the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill to federally legalize marijuana-titled Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act – for the second time in history.
While the bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is poised to end up on the House floor next week, a Senate legalization bill being finalized by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA) – is yet to be filed, most likely in April.
What’s in the research bill?
The newly passed bill would simplify the application process for researchers seeking to study cannabis. It will also encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop cannabis-derived medicines.
Under the legislation, physicians would be allowed to discuss the risks and benefits of marijuana with their patients.
The bill states that it “shall not be a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) for a State-licensed physician to discuss” the risk and benefits of marijuana and cannabis-derived products with patients.
Moreover, physicians will be able to require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report on the potential health benefits of marijuana, the obstacles related to cannabis research and how to overcome them.
“Current rules and regulations make it hard for researchers to study how marijuana and marijuana-derived medications can best be used to treat various conditions,” Sen. Feinstein said in a press release. “This important legislation will cut the red-tape around the research process, helping get FDA-approved, marijuana-derived medications safely to patients.”
Sen. Grassley emphasized that the bill is “critical” to better understand the cannabis plant.
“It will empower the FDA to analyze CBD and medical marijuana products in a safe and responsible way so that the American public can decide whether to utilize them in the future based on sound scientific data,” Grassley said. “Researching marijuana is widely supported by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and it’s a smart step forward in addressing this current schedule I drug.”
Sen. Schatz highlighted that federal laws are still ‘standing in the way of learning about cannabis’ potential health benefits.
“We are now one step closer to removing excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options,” Schatz said.