The United States House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a federal marijuana reform bill this week that will make cannabis research considerably cheaper, simpler, faster, and more convenient for scientists.
Last Friday, the House voted in favor of federal cannabis legalization and this new bill is also expected to pass.
Specifically, the measure in contention is the Medical Marijuana Research Act (MMRA), which proposes that scientists would be able to obtain cannabis for research purposes from state-legal dispensaries and federally approved independent retailers (who are these federally approved independent retailers? Good question!) Right now, the weed used in research is cultivated by sources approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) — all of whom really suck at growing.
In addition, the MMRA would remove the limits on how many outlets could register to cultivate marijuana for scientific research. It also states that research would no longer have to strictly be deemed “medical,” as scientists will be free to use cannabis for other forms of study.
The bill would further require that, within five years of implementation, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would issue the results of a study into whether or not marijuana should be rescheduled as a drug under federal law.
One of the key factors in the development of the MMRA is that scientists have long complained that the DEA has made it unnecessarily difficult to conduct cannabis research by refusing to increase the number of available sources for materials. In a somewhat surprising development, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers believed those allegations and decided to take action.
As a result, the MMRA includes language mandating that the DEA must approve cultivation applications within the first year of the legislation taking effect.
Overall, the MMRA would streamline registration processes for researchers by reducing approval wait times, slashing the costs of security requirements, and cutting red tape that results from multiple layers of unnecessary and time-consuming protocol reviews.
As noted, the MMRA has strong bipartisan support. It’s even being co-sponsored by a true congressional odd couple: Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who has been a campaigner for federal weed legalization, and Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who is a staunch opponent of federal weed legalization. Go fucking figure.
As such, the MMRA is expected to receive the two-thirds majority votes required for it to win approval.