A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Thursday (June 27) intended to facilitate federally-approved research into cannabis and its derivatives, such as cannabidiol (CBD).
The first section of the bill centers on the process through which research institutions can apply to the federal government for authorization to conduct marijuana research. If the bill passes in its current form, the U.S. attorney general would have a maximum of 60 days within which to approve the applications for cannabis research or request the applicant to avail more information.
The first section of the bill also creates a mechanism through which research organizations can get expedited approval if they want a larger quantity of Schedule I drugs, such as marijuana, for their research activities. Currently, the approval process takes a very long time and virtually renders research a near impossibility.
This section of the bill also deals with the process through which entities can apply to become manufacturers of research-grade marijuana products. At the moment, the University of Mississippi has the only federally-approved manufacturing facility across the U.S. The bill seeks to impose a 60-day deadline on the Department of Justice to approve manufacturing applications or ask the applicant to provide supplemental information.
The second section of the draft legislation focuses on the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and how it approves drugs derived from marijuana. To encourage innovation in this area, the bill seeks to allow any accredited medical or osteopathic institutions, schools, practitioners and manufacturers who have been registered to have access to Schedule I drugs to start growing their own marijuana for research purposes.
The bill also has a provision which gives the Drug Enforcement Administration authority to scrutinize and approve applicants who wish to manufacture any approved drug that is derived from marijuana. These approved manufacturers would also be permitted to import any marijuana products that they deem necessary for doing cannabis research.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), one of the sponsors of this bill, commented that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and its derivatives, but the country cannot rely on anecdotal evidence to make policies about the treatment of health conditions. He added that the bill is intended to remove the barriers that make it difficult for the needed research to be conducted to ascertain the truth in the claims regarding marijuana’s medicinal effects.
The 22-page bill has been endorsed by a number of mainstream medical associations, such as the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Addiction Medicine and American Psychological Association. Several pro-marijuana advocacy groups, such as NORML and Americans for Safe Access have also voiced their support for this draft legislation.
Marijuana industry analysts think that the entire cannabis industry, including players like Therma Bright Inc. (TSX.V: THRM) (OTC: THRBF) and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF), will be keeping its fingers crossed hoping to see this bill become law.
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