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The US Senate passes the Marijuana Research Bill

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The US Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that, if approved, would make it easier for registered entities to manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess marijuana for medical research.


What you need to know

    • The bipartisan law would make it easier for registered entities to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess marijuana for medical research purposes
    • The measure passed with unanimous approval and is now heading to President Joe Biden for final approval
    • Under the provisions of the law, the DEA will be directed to follow specific procedures for registering practitioners involved in marijuana research and manufacturers that supply marijuana for medical research.
  • The bill’s passage and expected approval by the president is the latest in a series of marijuana-related actions in Washington

The measure passed with unanimous approval and is now heading to President Joe Biden for final approval. It is the first stand-alone marijuana-related bill that Congress has referred to the president.

The so-called Medical Marijuana and CBD Research Expansion Act is the House version of a bill initially introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The House bill was sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat, and Andy Harris, a Republican.

“For a long time, federal laws prevented us from finding answers about the potential health benefits of marijuana,” Schatz said. “Our legislation will remove these barriers, allowing researchers to study marijuana’s efficacy and safety — and hopefully giving patients more treatment options.”

Under the provisions of the law, the DEA will be directed to follow specific procedures for registering practitioners involved in marijuana research and manufacturers that supply marijuana for medical research. The DEA will also have the responsibility to register those who manufacture or distribute CBD or marijuana in order to commercially produce an approved drug containing marijuana or its derivatives.

In addition, the bill would require the Drug Enforcement Administration to assess whether there is an adequate and uninterrupted supply of marijuana for research purposes; The federal Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from reinstating the multidisciplinary review process for marijuana research; allow physicians to discuss the potential benefits and harms of marijuana and its derivatives; It requires HHS, in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies, to report on the therapeutic potential of marijuana for conditions such as epilepsy, as well as its effect on adolescent brains and on the ability to operate a motor vehicle.

The law’s passage and expected approval by the president is the latest in a series of marijuana-related actions in Washington. Last month, Biden issued a “full, complete, and unconditional” pardon to Americans convicted of simply possession of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Also last month, Biden said he would ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal laws, an initial step in potentially reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I drug — a designation reserved for potentially harmful drugs, such as heroin or ecstasy, Which have no medical application – for a Schedule II drug (such as cocaine, oxycodone, or Ritalin), which is not regulated.

Michael Tsai Covers state and local politics for Spectrum News Hawaii.

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