The first cannabis research bill has been approved by both chambers of congress and is now waiting for a signature from President Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, California senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement that the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act looks to smoothen and streamline the application process for research studies and remove barriers that continuously slow down cannabis research.
The bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health to submit a report to Congress on the potential harms and benefits of the plant’s use.
It was first passed by the House of Representatives in July and passed on Wednesday by the Senate.
Bill S.253 was first introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley and Brian Schatz and passed in a 325-95 bipartisan vote. It is also cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin, Amy Klobuchar, Thom Tillis, Tim Kaine, Joni Ernst, among others.
Feinstein said there is substantial evidence that cannabis-derived medications have major health benefits and the bill will make it easier to study and understand how they can be used to treat different medical conditions.
“We know that cannabidiol-derived medications can be effective for conditions like epilepsy,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This bill will help refine current medical CBD practices and develop important new applications. After years of negotiation, I’m delighted that we’re finally enacting this bill that will result in critical research that could help millions.”
After years of negotiation, I’m delighted the Senate last night passed our bill to expand research into marijuana-derived medications, finally sending this bill to the president’s desk.https://t.co/zVjwo76d8q
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) November 17, 2022
Senator Grassley who also spearheaded the bill said he has heard from residents of Iowa who are “desperately” in search of treatment options for child epilepsy as many have resorted to using untested, unregulated derivatives of cannabis as a last resort.
“This research is a critical step toward ensuring safe and effective therapies are also consistently regulated like any other prescription drug. I’m grateful that this bipartisan bill is now on its way to President Biden,” Grassley added.
Congressman Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus described the bill’s passing by the House and the Senate as a “historic breakthrough” in addressing the federal government’s failed and misguided prohibition of cannabis.
Currently, cannabis plants that contain more than 0.3 per cent of THC are classified as a Schedule I substance by the government which has impeded progress in medical research given the stringent regulations around its use.