Biden Will Sign Medical Marijuana Research Bill
President Joseph Biden will sign bipartisan legislation passed last week to advance research into cannabis, according to multiple media reports. The bill, known as the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, was approved by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate after be passed by the House of Representatives during the summer.
The legislation is a significant milestone in marijuana policy reform, marking the first time a standalone cannabis measure has been approved by the U.S. Congress. The bill requires the U.S. Attorney Genera’s office to take timely action on applications to conduct scientific research with cannabis that have been submitted to the agency for approval. The president’s intention to sign the legislation was first revealed by Bloomberg and later confirmed by a White House spokesperson.
“Yes he’ll sign it,” a White House spokesperson told Marijuana Moment in an email.
U.S. House Passed Bill In July
Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, the co-sponsor of the legislation in the House with Maryland Republican Representative Andy Hariss, noted the significance of the bill after the Senate voted to approve the measure on Wednesday.
“After working on the issue of cannabis reform for decades, finally the dam is starting to break. 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,” Blumenauer, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement. “As we have seen in state after state, the public is tired of waiting for the federal government to catch up. More than 155 million Americans—nearly half of our nation’s population—now reside in states where adult-use of cannabis is legal.”
In July, the bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 325 to 95. In the Senate, where the legislation was passed by unanimous consent on November 23, the bill was sponsored by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii.
“For far too long, Congress has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers attempting to study cannabis and its benefits,” Blumenauer continued. “At a time when more than 155 million Americans reside where adult-use of cannabis is legal at the state or local level and there four million registered medical marijuana users with many more likely to self-medicate, it is essential that we are able fully study the impacts of cannabis use.”
Bill Eases Federal Restrictions On Cannabis Research
The bill is designed to ease federal restrictions on scientific research into cannabis, which is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The legislation streamlines the application process for the approval of marijuana-related scientific studies, making it easier for researchers to understand the potential medical benefits of cannabis. The measure also makes it easier for researchers to request large amounts of cannabis for their studies.
Under the legislation, the U.S. attorney general would be given a 60-day deadline to approve an application for marijuana research or submit a request for additional information to the research applicant. The bill also includes provisions to encourage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to support the development of cannabis-derived medications.
“There is substantial evidence that marijuana-derived medications can and are providing major health benefits. Our bill will make it easier to study how these medications can treat various conditions, resulting in more patients being able to easily access safe medications,” Feinstein said in a statement. “We know that cannabidiol-derived medications can be effective for conditions like epilepsy. 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.”
Once the bill officially lands on the president’s desk, he will have 10 days to sign the legislation or veto it. If he fails to act in that time, the measure will go into effect without Biden’s signature.