The legislation is a significant milestone in cannabis policy reform, marking the first time the U.S. Congress has approved a standalone marijuana measure. The bill will empower the U.S. Attorney General's office to take timely action on applications for scientific research with cannabis approved by the agency.
U.S. House Passed Bill In July
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the co-sponsor of the legislation with Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Hariss, noted the bill's significance after the Senate voted to approve the measure last week.
"The passage of my Medical Marijuana & Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act in both the Senate and House represents a historical breakthrough in addressing barriers for researchers attempting to study medical cannabis and its benefits," according to the democratic congressmen from Oregon, who also serves as the co-chair and founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
The bill easily passed on the floor of the House by a vote of 325 to 95 in July. In the Senate, where the legislation passed by unanimous consent on November 23, the bill's sponsors included: Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
Bill Eases Federal Restrictions On Cannabis Research
The bill's design will alleviate federal restrictions on scientific
research into cannabis, currently still classified as a controlled
substance (Schedule 1) on par with LSD and heroin.
The legislation fast-tracks the approval process of cannabis-related scientific studies, making it more straightforward for researchers to study the medical benefits of marijuana. The measure also makes it less complicated for researchers to submit a request for large quantities of cannabis for their studies.
Under the new legislation, the U.S. attorney general would be under a
sixty-day deadline to approve an application for cannabis research or
submit a request for additional information to the research applicant.
The bill also includes provisions facilitating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to support the development of cannabis-derived medications.
Once the bill officially lands on the president's desk, he will have ten days to sign or veto the legislation. If he fails to act in that time, the measure will go into effect without Biden's signature.