Last week, the Senate approved a cannabis measure that would promote research into cannabis. The unanimously approved legislation, titled the Cannabidiol and Marijuana Research Expansion Act, was sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley, Brian Schatz and Dianne Feinstein.
The bill’s approval will allow the process of application for scientists who want to study the plant to be streamlined. Under the measure, the U.S. attorney general would be afforded a 60-day deadline to either approve an application or request more information from the applicant. This is in addition to creating an expedited pathway for researchers who would like to request access to higher quantities of drugs classified under Schedule I.
It also encourages the FDA to develop marijuana-derived medications by allowing practitioners, research institutions, accredited medical schools and manufacturers holding Schedule I registrations to grow their own marijuana for research purposes. Here, the DEA would receive a mandate to approve applications for manufacturers of FDA-approved, cannabis-derived medications.
The bill also requires that the Department of Health and Human Services submit two reports: one on the barriers to marijuana research and how to overcome those obstacles and another on the potential health benefits of cannabis. In addition to this, it clarifies that physicians are allowed to talk about the benefits and risks of cannabis with their patients.
In a press release, Feinstein stated that the current regulations and rules made it hard for researchers to study how cannabis and cannabis-derived medications could be used optimally in the treatment of a myriad of health conditions. She explained that this bill would reduce the obstacles around the research process, which would in turn help get cannabis-derived, FDA-approved drugs to patients safely.
Grassley echoed Feinstein’s thoughts, arguing that the bill would also help to better understand the cannabis plant as well as its potential side effects and benefits. He explained that the legislation would empower the Food and Drug Administration to analyze medical cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) products in a responsible and safe way, letting the public decide whether these products could be used in the future based on scientific data.
Schatz added that the measure’s approval brought legislators one step closer to eliminating the barriers, which made it difficult for scientists to conduct research on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana use, which would afford patients more treatment options.
An earlier version of this particular legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate in 2020, before being reintroduced last year. Once this bill becomes law, industry players such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) could see the easing of some of the bottlenecks which have made studying marijuana a difficult task in the past.
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