Biden signs bill to expand medical cannabis research
President Joe Biden last week added his signature to a bipartisan bill aimed at expanding and streamlining medical cannabis research.
The bill, dubbed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, “establishes a new registration process for conducting marijuana research and manufacturing marijuana products for research and drug development purposes,” the statement said of the White House on Friday.
Despite the ubiquity of medical marijuana across the country, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, which has hampered research potential in the field. The newly signed bill aims to change that.
It passed the US Senate last month with bipartisan support after winning House approval in July with both Democrats and Republicans voting.
It’s the spin-off of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus that celebrated Biden’s signing of the bill on Friday.
The group of lawmakers touted the measure as “the first standalone federal marijuana reform law since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1971.”
The law aims to “facilitate research on marijuana and its potential health benefits … by streamlining the application process for scientific marijuana studies and removing existing barriers for researchers that often slow down the research process.”
“For decades, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress by peddling a misguided and discriminatory approach to cannabis. Today marks a monumental step in fixing our state cannabis laws. The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act will make it easier to study the effects and potential of cannabis,” Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Brian Mast (R-FL) in a joint statement following Biden’s signing. “Research is fundamental to moving forward in cannabis policy. Research is imperative to better understand the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, which have the potential to benefit millions of Americans struggling with chronic pain, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, anxiety disorders and more.”
“We celebrate the passing of this critical and long-overdue law, and we know there is much more work to be done to repair the lingering damage from the failed drug war,” the Chairmen added.
In the other chamber, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein of California said there is “substantial evidence that marijuana-derived drugs can and do provide major health benefits,” and that the bill “will make it easier to study how these are doing.” Medicines can treat different conditions, resulting in safe medicines being easily accessible to more patients.”
“We know that cannabidiol-derived drugs can be effective in conditions like epilepsy. This bill will help refine current medical CBD practices and develop important new applications. After years of negotiations, I am pleased that we are finally passing this legislation that will result in critical research that could benefit millions,” Feinstein said.
The group of lawmakers said the caucus “will continue to work to reconsider the federal government’s approach to cannabis and pass other reforms,” including “the SAFE banking package, the Veterans Equal Access Act, the PREPARE Act and the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act.”
It’s the second action Biden has taken regarding federal marijuana policy in the past two months. In October, the President announced pardons for those previously convicted under federal law of minor marijuana-related offenses.
Additionally, Biden also signaled his desire to move toward federal decriminalization by saying he has directed Cabinet officials to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, which establishes the federal ban on marijuana.
“As I have said many times during my presidential campaign, no one should be in prison just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in his announcement. “Sending people to jail for possession of marijuana has turned too many lives upside down and jailed people for behavior that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also created unnecessary barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while whites and blacks and browns use marijuana at similar rates, blacks and browns have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”