After House Passes Cannabis Research Bill, Senate Follows Suit With Own Version

In the waning days of the Senate’s 2020 session, the legislative body has passed a bill making it easier for researchers to study the effects of marijuana use and its medical application. Late on Tuesday, the bill passed with bipartisan support, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Marijuana Moment reported. The bill’s passage comes less than a week after the House passed a similar measure.

The Senate’s proposed law, entitled the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, was introduced last year. If enacted, it will simplify the application process for researchers interested in studying cannabis, and will also encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve cannabis-derived medications, according to Sen. Grassley’s press release.

In addition, the law would mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submit reports on both the substance’s potential health benefits, the barriers to research and what strategies could be employed to overcome those obstacles.

Speaking about the bill, Sen. Grassley commented, “I’ve been a strong supporter and lead Republican of this legislation since it was first introduced in 2016. This bipartisan bill is critical to better understanding the marijuana plant and its potential benefits and side effects. It will empower the FDA 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.” He also remarked that “[r]esearching 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.”

According to Marijuana Moment, the Senate’s action has increased the likelihood that some form of a cannabis research bill will soon become law. The news outlet noted that the House-passed bill makes more allowances, like permitting researchers to source cannabis from state-legal dispensaries. If lawmakers want to reconcile the differences, negotiations could push resolution to 2021, Marijuana Moment explained.