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US House Passes Cannabis Research Bill

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

July 28, 2022

Detail of Cannabis cola (fire creek marijuana strain) with visible hairs and leaves on late flowering stage - isolated over purple background

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a groundbreaking cannabis research bill this week after receiving strong bipartisan support from lawmakers. The legislation is expected to be passed in the days ahead by the

, according to lawmakers, which would make the measure the first dedicated cannabis reform bill to become law if it is subsequently signed by President Joseph Biden.

Known as the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (

), the bill was approved in the House on Tuesday by a vote of 325-95, with all 216 Democrats present in the chamber voting in favor of the legislation. A slight majority of GOP lawmakers also supported the bill, with 109 Republicans voting to approve the measure while 95 voted against the legislation.

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Legislation Streamlines Cannabis Research

If passed, the bill would “encourage research on marijuana and its potential benefits by streamlining the application process for researchers and removing FDA barriers,” according to a statement from Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“At a time when there are four million registered medical marijuana patients and many more likely to self-medicate, it is crucial that researchers are able to fully study the health benefits of cannabis,” Blumenauer, who was not present for the vote,

after the bill’s passage. “For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers obtaining resources and approval to study cannabis. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an important first step to changing that.”

Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland spoke in favor of the legislation ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Harris, who opposes the federal legalization of marijuana, nonetheless supports expanded research into cannabis. 

“This bill makes it easier to do the necessary, rigorous medical research—just like is done for any other drug that has a claim of efficacy in this country,”

on the House floor in an address quoted by Marijuana Moment. “The American public deserves to know what medical marijuana is useful for because, for anyone with those conditions where it is found to be useful, it could be a godsend—but for other conditions where the claims won’t be found to be valid with rigorous research, it would be found to be ineffective.”

“That would help protect American patients as well,” he added. “This would modernize our research methods, bringing medical marijuana up to the scientific standards we use for every other type of medication that is sold as a drug in this country.”

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act would require the attorney general’s office to approve or request additional information for an application for cannabis research within 60 days. The bill also encourages the Food and Drug Administration to develop cannabis medicines and makes it easier for researchers to request large quantities of cannabis for their studies.

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Bill Now Heads to the Senate

The bill is nearly identical to a bill sponsored by California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein, fellow Democrat Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley that was passed by a unanimous vote of the Senate in March. After the House version was passed on Tuesday, Feinstein said the bill would likely see swift approval in the upper chamber of Congress.

“After years of effort, the House took a major step today in passing our legislation to make it easier for researchers to study how marijuana-derived medications can best treat various conditions,” said Feinstein. “The bill will help get safe, FDA-approved, marijuana-derived medications safely to patients in need. I am confident that the Senate will quickly pass this amended version of the bill and send it to President Biden for his signature.”

Troy Datcher, CEO of vertically integrated cannabis operator The Parent Company, noted that passage of the bill marks a step forward in federal

efforts.

“Though cannabis has been used for therapeutic purposes for generations, there’s still so much we don’t know about the plant. Further research will be a pivotal factor in dispelling longstanding myths about the plant, and developing sound public policy,” Datcher wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, research on cannabis has been hampered for the last 50 years by the failed policy of cannabis prohibition, but the passage of this bill represents a significant milestone in our quest to better understand its medicinal and therapeutic properties, and develop a thoughtful and effective regulatory framework.”

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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