Cannabis News

Congress passes ‘CBD and Marihuana Research Expansion Act’


Tens of millions of medical patients who could benefit from a new FDA-approved prescription CBD got the smallest of congressional breaks on Monday.

The United States House of Representatives voted tonight to pass the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, which aims to enable the research and development of new drugs. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill in March.

Doctors have reported for decades that the federal Schedule I status of marijuana – designating it as a drug as dangerous as heroin – is blocking trials of basic drugs. A generation of patients have undertaken these trials on themselves. (Ninety-two percent of medical cannabis users reported efficacy in a 2014 state survey.)

Currently, 38 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes or for all adults, but “marijuana” remains a Annex I substance.

The new law, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and eight other senators, does not change the herb’s Schedule I status. But it forces the federal government to allow more researchers to grow medical cannabis and allows doctors to talk about pot without fear of losing their medical license, along with other modest adjustments.

About 91% of Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana, Pew Research finds. Yet the CBD Research Expansion Act was voted on, passed and then died in 2020.

The House of Representatives also passed a large-scale legalization bill – the MORE Act-Last week.

About 68% of Americans support full legalization. But Senator Feinstein, a longtime Democrat representing the largest legal cannabis market on the planet, who has made $5.1 billion in legal sales last year – focus on further research, do not legalize at the federal level.

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“Current rules and regulations make it difficult for researchers to study how marijuana and marijuana-derived drugs can best be used to treat various conditions,” Sen. Feinstein said in a statement. “This important legislation will cut red tape around the research process, helping to provide patients with FDA-approved marijuana-derived drugs safely.”

Policy experts note that marijuana has been studied for decades and shown medical efficacy, with a lower abuse profile than prescription drugs. And yet, Republican Senator Grassley applauded the possibility of continuing this research in a statement.

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Congress just legalized marijuana through the MORE Act, again.

“This bipartisan bill is essential to better understand the marijuana plant and its potential benefits and side effects,” Grassley said in a statement. “This will allow the FDA to test CBD and medical marijuana products in a safe and responsible manner so that the American public can decide whether to use them in the future based on sound science. Marijuana research is widely supported by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and it’s a smart step forward in the fight against this current Schedule I drug.”

David Downs

David Downs leads news and lifestyle coverage as Leafly.com’s California bureau chief. He has written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books, including “Marijuana Harvest” by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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