The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a negotiated version of the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act which would encourage cannabis research by streamlining the federal application process and removing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) barriers.
It marks the second time this year the chamber has approved the measure.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the bill sponsor, said in a statement that the legislation is “crucial” for researchers and patients to be “able to fully study the health benefits of cannabis.”
“Research is a foundational element for cannabis policy. … . 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.” — Blumenauer in a press release
Republican Rep. Andy Harris (MD), a physician who once conducted National Institute of Health-sponsored research, said he was “pleased” with the bill’s passage “and that scientists will be able to research what medical marijuana can and cannot do.” Although he added that he still “categorically” opposes the recreational use of cannabis.
“While there is evidence to suggest that medical marijuana may be beneficial in the treatment of some diseases like glaucoma and epilepsy, only scientific research will prove the veracity of the many claims regarding efficacy for other diseases,” he said in a statement. “Despite lacking much scientific research, over three dozen states have already legalized medical marijuana, and the American public deserves to know the effect modern marijuana has on the human body.”
The Senate passed a similar bill in 2020 and the bill passed on Tuesday includes provisions from both bills approved by the respective chambers. The measure passed with bipartisan support, including 216 Democrats and 109 Republicans. The Senate is expected to approve the bill.
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