The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, which would expedite the process required for researchers to get Drug Enforcement Administration approval to possess cannabis for research purposes, Law360 reports. The measure would also require the agency to approve drug manufacturers’ access to cannabis for potential new treatment development.
Last week the House passed a similar measure which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to create a structure for, and remove limitations on, cannabis research. The House bill directs The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Justice to create a licensing program for additional federal cannabis producers.
The Senate-approved measure also directs HHS to advise Congress on how researchers can best access cannabis available in legal states while the House bill specifically allows researchers to obtain cannabis from legal markets. The Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act also requires HHS to prepare a report for lawmakers on the effects of cannabis on developing brains and users’ cognitive abilities.
The measure was introduced as two separate measures in the chamber in 2016 by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). In a statement, Grassley called the bill “critical to better understanding the marijuana plant and its potential benefits and side effects.”
“It will empower the [Food and Drug Administration] to analyze CBD and medical marijuana products in a safe and responsible way so that the American public can decide whether to utilize them in the future based on sound scientific data. Researching marijuana is widely supported by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and it’s a smart step forward in addressing this current Schedule I drug.” – Grassley in a statement
Feinstein said the measure “streamlines the research process and paves the way for marijuana-derived medications that are FDA-approved to treat serious medical conditions.”