Congress Passes Medical Cannabis Research Reforms Bill

The Senate passed a House-approved medical cannabis research bill yesterday, making it the first standalone cannabis reforms bill ever delivered to the president’s desk.

Full story after the jump.

The U.S. Senate yesterday passed a medical cannabis research reforms bill with unanimous consent, POLITICO reports. The proposal had already passed through the House earlier this year, also with unanimous consent, making it the first standalone cannabis reforms bill ever sent to a sitting U.S. president for their signature.

The aptly named Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act — sponsored in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — will expand research opportunities for studying the efficacy of medical cannabis. The bill will also protect doctors in discussing the risks and benefits of medical cannabis use with their patients.

“After working on the issue of cannabis reform for decades, finally the dam is starting to break. 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 are four million registered medical marijuana users with many more likely to self-medicate, it is essential that we are able to fully study the impacts of cannabis use.” — Rep. Blumenauer, via POLITICO

For decades, cannabis has been scheduled alongside other Schedule I substances like heroin or ecstasy which, according to the DEA, are “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” While the plant is to remain in that category, for now, the recently approved cannabis research act should open up research opportunities that were previously hamstrung by DEA footdragging and other disinterested federal agencies.

President Biden said while campaigning that he believes cannabis should be easier to research and that nobody should be jailed for consuming cannabis. The president took his first major step last month toward honoring those statements when he issued a blanket pardon for all federal prisoners with low-level cannabis convictions and directed his Secretary of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorney General to begin an administrative review of the current scheduling of cannabis.

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