On the heels of President Biden’s Proclamation granting pardons to federal marijuana possession offenders in October, President Biden signed into law the Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act on December 2, 2022.
The bill acknowledges the promise of marijuana and CBD in treating a wide spectrum of diseases and disorders as well as the dearth of scientific research due to a lack of federal funding. The law paves the way for an expansion of marijuana and CBD-related medical research with the aim of ultimately bringing FDA-approved products to market. The law’s historic passage also follows Biden’s directive to review marijuana’s class 1 scheduling status under the Controlled Substances Act.
The bipartisan Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Brian Mast (R-FL) released a statement saying, “For decades the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress – peddling a misguided and discriminatory approach to cannabis. Today marks a monumental step in remedying our federal cannabis laws.”
Under the new law, the application process for marijuana-related scientific research will be eased, giving the U.S. Attorney General a 60-day deadline to approve any application or request more information from the applicant. It also eases restrictions for researchers to request large quantities of cannabis to conduct their studies and encourages the FDA to support cannabis-derived medication development. Finally, the law protects doctors’ discussions with their patients regarding cannabis and cannabis-derived treatments.
Recent Marijuana Reform Progress in Congress
Forbes reports that the Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act is the first standalone cannabis reform bill to be passed by Congress. The bill passed the House in July and, after a delay caused by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) objecting to the expediated process, ultimately passed with unanimous consent in the Senate last month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “I hope after passing this bill the Senate can make progress on other cannabis legislation, too.” Schumer promises that discussions on cannabis reform legislation will continue amongst both House and Senate members over the lame duck session.
Just one day before the Senate passed the bill, the House Oversight Subcomittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on marijuana legalization. Issues discussed during the hearing included:
- Impact of decriminalization of marijuana on various communities, including veterans and people of color
- Legislative reform, including criminal justice, financial services, regulatory policy, and taxation
- Federal regulation of cannabis on par with alcohol
Lawmakers are also concurrently trying to advance the passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would permit financial institutions to provide banking services to marijuana businesses. Currently, financial institutions are subject to federal prosecution if they provide such services to cannabis-related businesses in violation of federal law, so most marijuana businesses operate on a cash-only basis, making them vulnerable to robberies.
At Purdy & Bailey, LLP, our team of marijuana business law attorneys remain up to date on all the state and federal developments in this rapidly shifting field of law. Staying compliant with the state and federal laws that regulate marijuana can be difficult, but our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can provide you with legal support that is customized to the needs of your business.
If you have any concerns about your cannabis business, contact us today at (858) 360-7080 to book a consultation.