Friday, December 8, 2023

US Senate Green-Lights Bipartisan Marijuana Research Bill Ahead Of House Legalization Vote

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.

By Jelena Martinovic

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.

marijuana research
Photo by Aleksandr_Kravtsov/Getty Images

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 (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement 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.

RELATED: Marijuana Research Bill For Veterans Gets Green Light Despite Biden Administration Objection

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.

medical marijuana
Photo by Esther Kelleter / EyeEm/Getty Images

“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.”

RELATED: GOP Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Streamline Cannabis Research After DEA Shows Support For White House Plan

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.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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