Congress Advancing Bills to Facilitate Cannabis Research

April 28, 2022

As Congress debates federal marijuana legislation, FABBS will be monitoring provisions to facilitate research. Currently, cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this has posed a barrier to studying potential risks and benefits of the plant.

As explained in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, The Evolution of Marijuana as a Controlled Substance and the Federal-State Policy Gap, conducting cannabis research involves several federal agencies: DEA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Investigators are required to obtain a DEA registration, an FDA review of an investigational new drug application (IND) or research protocol, and cannabis from NIDA or another DEA-registered source. For all controlled substances, researchers must obtain a registration issued by the Attorney General.

On March 24, the Senate approved a bipartisan piece of legislation, S.253 – Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion, to facilitate research. Bill sponsors Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have explained that the legislation would streamline the application process for researchers who want to study the plant.

The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report on barriers to cannabis research and how to overcome those obstacles as well as one on potential health benefits. It would also clarify that physicians are allowed to discuss the risks and benefits of cannabis with patients.  It cleared the full chamber unanimously, without debate.

On April first, the U.S. House of Representatives approved federal marijuana legalization, through H.R. 3617 – the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Finance Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a statement that they intend to introduce their cannabis reform bill, the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA), by the August recess.


Watch the archived FABBS webinar (and Social Science Space article) where researchers discuss the brain science and the policy considerations related to widespread marijuana consumption. You can also see PIBBS research on The Impact of Marijuana on Cognition, Brain Structure, and Brain Function, and Related Public Policy Implications.