Congress passed a massive infrastructure bill on Friday that includes letting researchers use marijuana purchased from state-legal dispensaries, rather than only government-grown cannabis, in their studies.
Educating people about the dangers of impaired driving is also encouraged by this legislation. Now that the House has agreed to the Senate’s revisions, the bill will be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.
In September, the full House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill that included protections for banks with state-licensed marijuana businesses.
According to a report released Thursday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials on marijuana’s potential to help veterans suffering from PTSD and chronic pain. The committee approved the bill on Thursday.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood must work with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on a public report within two years of the bill’s passage that includes recommendations on allowing scientists access to retail-level marijuana to study impaired driving.
Specifically, the marijuana provision requires that the report include a recommendation for the creation of a national clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of marijuana samples and strains “for scientific research that includes marijuana and products containing marijuana legally available to patients or consumers in a state on a retail basis.”
When it comes to dispensary products, it specifies that scientists from states without legalization should access those sold in states that have ended prohibition.
Congress has finally caught up with a public opinion on marijuana legalization, according to Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), who sponsored Senate research language and secured its inclusion in transportation legislation during a committee markup. As soon as it becomes law, we’ll be able to better understand the dangers of driving while under the influence of cannabis.
Research on cannabis from state-licensed shops would be “valuable,” according to the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow.
When the House of Representatives first passed the infrastructure bill in June, it included provisions for cannabis research, which were later removed. August saw the Senate pass its version of the bill, which contained marijuana language almost verbatim identical to the House’s. As of Friday, the House had voted to approve the Senate’s version, making the bill law.
According to the legislation, the report on marijuana-impaired driving must also look into “federal statutory and regulatory barriers.”
Additionally, a separate section of the transportation legislation calls for states where marijuana is legal to consider ways to educate and discourage impaired driving from cannabis use. Some advocates object to that language because it only refers to states where marijuana is legal while ignoring that marijuana-impaired driving occurs in all states.
Marijuana research issues have been addressed in some way since the drug’s introduction in 2013. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently informed several companies that it is moving toward approving their applications to become federally authorized cannabis manufacturers for research.
As one of the first moves made by the Biden administration, this is a significant development. Currently, the University of Mississippi has been the only federally approved cannabis cultivation facility in operation for the past 50 years.
The DEA’s decision to allow researchers to obtain marijuana products from state-licensed retailers would still not allow them to do so in the same way that transportation legislation would if it were passed.
According to a recent proposal by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), marijuana and psilocybin production should be increased significantly to help develop new federally approved therapeutic medications.