House Greenlights Medical Marijuana Research Legislation

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act, sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.). The bill was introduced to make it easier for researchers to conduct legitimate medical marijuana studies, according to Rep. Blumenauer’s press release. The measure passed with strong bipartisan support by voice vote, POLITICO reported.

The cannabis research bill tails a momentous vote last week, when House members approved a bill decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level, as reported by Law Street Media. The instant legislation seeks to reduce barriers to research, which currently include a burdensome registration process, onerous security requirements, and a dearth of quality cannabis to research with, the press release explained.

In particular, the new bill, if passed into law, will provide a pathway for scientists to study the cannabis products available through state-legal programs, streamline the licensing process, address the “woefully inadequate” supply of medical-grade marijuana, and require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to issue status reports on medical marijuana research results, the press release stated.

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Blumenaur said, “[t]he cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research. It’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance. But we do not have a good test for impairment because we can’t study it … This is insane and we need to change it.”

Both this bill and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act need Senate approval before they become law. According to Marijuana Business Daily, the Senate is unlikely to vote on this measure before the end of the legislative session. As for the MORE Act, Marijuana Business Daily described, in a Dec. 4 article, the “very likely event” that the MORE Act will “die[] in the Senate in the current legislative session…” requiring proponents to restart the enactment process in the House next year.