Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, along with Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Brian Schatz, applauded the passage of their legislation to expand scientific and medical research on marijuana and its compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD). The bill unanimously passed the Senate Thursday evening.

“This bipartisan bill is critical to better understanding the marijuana plant and its potential benefits and hazards. It will empower the FDA to analyze CBD and medical marijuana products in a safe and responsible way so that the American public can decide whether to utilize them in the future based on sound scientific data. Researching marijuana is widely supported by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and it’s a smart step forward in addressing this schedule I drug,” Grassley said.

“Current rules and regulations make it hard for researchers to study how marijuana and marijuana-derived medications can best be used to treat various conditions,” said Feinstein. “This important legislation will cut the red-tape around the research process, helping get FDA-approved, marijuana-derived medications safely to patients.”

“The medical community agrees that we need more research to learn about marijuana’s potential health benefits, but our federal laws today are standing in the way of us finding those answers,” said Schatz. “We are now one step closer to removing excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options.”

Currently, both marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) containing more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly known as THC) are classified as Schedule I drugs. As a result, medical research is subject to stringent regulations that can impede new developments. CBD is largely unregulated, but thousands of parents nationwide have used CBD oil to help their children who suffer from intractable epilepsy. Few marijuana-derived products have been FDA-approved, and there is little available information about their interactions with other medications, appropriate doses or delivery mechanisms.

The goal of the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act is to ensure that research on CBD and other potentially beneficial marijuana-derived substances is based on sound science while simultaneously reducing the regulatory barriers associated with conducting research on marijuana. The bill also requires HHS and NIH to submit a report to Congress on the potential harms and benefits of marijuana use.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jon Tester (D -Mont.) and Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska).

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