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First Cannabis Research Legislation Headed To Biden’s Desk

HR 8454 streamlines the process for Cannabis research, and encourages the FDA to develop marijuana-based medicines

103 WJOD

The United States Congress has passed its first-ever federal marijuana reform legislation, reports KDRV. A bill making it easier to conduct research into Cannabis and encourage the development of marijuana-based medicines cleared the U.S. Senate unanimously Wednesday, reports NJ.com.

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (H.R. 8454) already passed the U.S. House. The bill heads to the desk of President Joe Biden, now that it’s passed the Senate as well. Again, is the first pro-marijuana bill to get through Congress, and thus a significant milestone. Its chief sponsor, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Cannabis-friendly Democrat, said he hoped other bills could follow.

HR 8454 streamlines the application process for Cannabis research, and encourages the Food and Drug Administration to develop marijuana-derived medicines. It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to report on the potential benefits and harms of Cannabis use to Congress. It does all this, unfortunately, without altering marijuana’s Schedule I status or legalizing the herb.

Schumer Hopes To Pass Broader Cannabis Reforms

Prior to the voice vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the floor that he is continuing “productive talks” about broader cannabis reforms. Schumer hopes to pass these before the end of the lame-duck session, reports Yahoo! Finance.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the research bill in the Senate.

The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year by a comfortable bipartisan vote of 325-95. The legislation was approved under the leadership of Reps Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.).

It aims to facilitate research on marijuana and its potential health benefits. The bill streamlines the application process for scientific Cannabis studies. It removes existing barriers for scientists that have stymied research for decades.

“Finally The Dam Is Starting To Break”

“After working on the issue of cannabis reform for decades, finally the dam is starting to break,” said Rep. Blumenauer. ”The passage of my Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act in the House and Senate represents a historic breakthrough in addressing the federal government’s failed and misguided prohibition of cannabis.” The Oregon Congressman is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. 

Sen. Feinstein noted that the bill makes it easier to study how Cannabis medications can treat various conditions. She said this results in more patients being able to easily access safe medications.

“We know that cannabidiol-derived medications can be effective for conditions like epilepsy,” Feinstein said. ”This bill will help refine current medical CBD practices and develop important new applications. After years of negotiation, I’m delighted that we’re finally enacting this bill that will result in critical research that could help millions.”

“More Treatment Options”

Sen. Grassley, meanwhile, said he is grateful the bipartisan bill is now on its way to President Biden.

“Since 2015, I’ve pushed to expand medical research into marijuana derivatives such as cannabidiol to better understand their benefits and potential harms,” Grassley said.

Sen. Schatz shared his co-sponsors’ excitement. “Our bill, which is now set to become law, will remove excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options,” he said.

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