The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it will consider legislation to expand cannabis research opportunities on Wednesday, Marijuana Moment reports.
The bipartisan bill was first proposed last year and would make two important changes: first, the bill would simplify the registration process for researchers who want to study cannabis. Second, the proposal would allow federally certified researchers to acquire cannabis for research purposes from private, state-licensed entities.
Currently, the federal government only allows researchers to use cannabis products provided by the University of Mississippi, which scientists say has more resemblance to hemp than the medical or adult-use cannabis products offered by state-licensed retailers. The bill proposes allowing any number of registered providers of research-grade cannabis.
A recent report suggested that the U.S. spent nearly $1.5 billion on cannabis research from 2000 to 2018; the majority of that spending, however, was focused on understanding the potential harms of cannabis use, not the plant’s medicinal potential.
The bill was proposed last year by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D), a proponent for legalization and founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and Maryland Rep. Andy Harris (R), an outspoken cannabis critic who in 2015 blocked Washington DC from establishing a voter-approved cannabis marketplace. Other sponsors include Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia), Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), and Rob Bishop (R-Utah).
House lawmakers are also expected to consider legislation this month that would remove the cannabis plant from the Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending federal prohibition — it will be the first legalization proposal ever heard by a full congressional body. That bill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would also require federal courts to expunge cannabis-related convictions and would allot cannabis tax dollars toward establishing an Opportunity Trust Fund to support small business owners who were adversely affected by prohibition.
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