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US President Biden creates history with federal marijuana research bill

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By Louis Allen - 

United States President Joe Biden has officially signed a marijuana research bill into law, becoming the first piece of standalone federal cannabis reform legislation in the nation’s history.

The White House confirmed on Friday that President Biden signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act.

Congressman Blumenauer’s endorsement of the bill was joined by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee, Dave Joyce, and Brian Mast.

The Representatives explained the importance of medical research on marijuana to fully understand the medicinal potential of the plant to treat varying medical conditions.

The law aims to make scientists who study marijuana for medical purposes throughout the US much easier, mitigating the strict regulations they previously had to follow, which delayed research considerably.

Passing of the bill into law further highlights the shift in attitudes towards federal policy on cannabis.

US congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced the legislation and said it was a long time coming for such laws to be passed.

“For far too long, Congress has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers attempting to study cannabis and its benefits,” he said.

“It is essential that we are able to fully study the impacts of cannabis use, given that more than 155 million people live in areas where local or state governments have legalised adult use of marijuana.”

The bipartisan bill was first introduced in July this year, and quickly passed in the House, before being unanimously approved by the Senate in November.

Overcoming research barriers

The Act guides the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in identifying policies that prevent cannabis research and to recommend a way to overcome those barriers.

It also helps research institutions import cannabis or grow their own for medical research purposes, but restricts scientists from purchasing cannabis from state-run dispensaries.

Under the new law, the US Federal Government will provide an uninterrupted supply of marijuana to scientists in its study efforts.

This will allow researchers to learn more about the plant’s medical properties and request large amounts of marijuana to use for research.

President Biden’s signing of the Act follows the executive order in October, which pardoned around 6,500 individuals convicted for marijuana possession at the federal level.

He also drove the Secretary of the HHS and the Attorney General to “initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”

Cutting red tape

The new legislation speeds up the application process to approve marijuana-related scientific studies.

Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted that she’s “pleased President Biden has signed into law our legislation to cut red tape around the marijuana research process.”

“After years of negotiation, we’re finally enacting this bill that will result in critical research that could help millions,” she said.

The president remains opposed to federal cannabis legalisation for now, but has campaigned during several marijuana reforms, including promoting research, decriminalisation and rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).