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Biden plans to sign first bipartisan marijuana bill into law

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/18/2022 Rachel Schilke
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President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation that will expand medical marijuana research that passed the Senate this week in a sign of bipartisanship.

This is the first stand-alone cannabis bill to be approved with unanimous consent by both the Senate and the House, which passed the bill in July. It seeks to make it easier for scientists to conduct medical marijuana tests and provide protection for doctors who discuss with patients both the benefits and drawbacks of using marijuana. It will now head to Biden, and a White House official told the Washington Examiner that the president will sign the legislation.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with co-sponsors Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the bill in the House.

Feinstein said in a statement that after years of negotiations, she is "delighted" that Congress is enacting the bill that will "result in critical research that could help millions."

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“There is substantial evidence that marijuana-derived medications can and are providing major health benefits. Our bill will make it easier to study how these medications can treat various conditions, resulting in more patients being able to easily access safe medications,” Feinstein said.

Cannabis is a Schedule I substance in the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs, which include heroin, are considered to have no medical benefits and a high chance of addiction. However, research conducted over the last decade suggests that marijuana could have medical benefits for certain types of medical conditions.

Grassley, who has been pushing to expand medical marijuana research since 2015, said the bill is a critical step toward ensuring "safe and effective therapies" for marijuana, to be regulated like any other prescription drug.

“I’ve heard directly from Iowans who are desperately in search of treatment options for conditions like child epilepsy," Grassley said. "Unfortunately, many families have resorted to using untested, unregulated derivatives from the marijuana plant as a last resort to treat these conditions ... I'm grateful that this bipartisan bill is now on its way to President Biden."

In October, Biden issued an executive order announcing that he would be taking steps to address marijuana possession crimes.

"As I’ve said before, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana," Biden wrote in a tweet on Oct. 6. "Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives — for conduct that is legal in many states. That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs."

In the executive order, he also asked the Department of Health and Human Services to review the process of available research on medical marijuana, with the goal to offer a recommendation to the Department of Justice to reclassify or declassify marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

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Blumenauer wrote in a statement that the bill represents a historic breakthrough in addressing the federal government's "failed and misguided prohibition of cannabis."

"At a time when more than 155 million Americans reside where adult-use of cannabis is legal at the state or local level and there four million registered medical marijuana users with many more likely to self-medicate, it is essential that we are able fully study the impacts of cannabis use," he said.

 

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Tags: Marijuana, Medical Marijuana, Congress, Joe Biden, White House

Original Author: Rachel Schilke

Original Location: Biden plans to sign first bipartisan marijuana bill into law

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