US president Joe Biden will sign bipartisan legislation passed last week to advance medicinal cannabis research, according to the White House. 

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act was voted through unanimously by the Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives in the summer. It is the first time Congress has approved a standalone cannabis measure. 

The bill eases federal restrictions on scientific research into cannabis, which is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. 

It streamlines and speeds up the application process for the approval of cannabis-related studies by the Attorney General’s office and makes it easier for scientists to request large amounts of the substance for their research.

It also encourages the US Food and Drug Administration to support the development of cannabis-derived medicines.

Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, co-sponsor of the bill with Maryland Republican Representative Andy Hariss, said: “After working on the issue of cannabis reform for decades, finally the dam is starting to break. 

“The passage [of the act] in the House and Senate represents a historic breakthrough in addressing the federal government’s failed and misguided prohibition of cannabis. 

“For far too long, Congress has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers attempting to study cannabis and its benefits.

“At a time when more than 155 million Americans reside where adult-use is legal… and there four million registered medical marijuana users, with many more likely to self-medicate, it is essential that we are able to fully study the impacts of cannabis use.”

Meanwhile, New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) issued 36 cannabis dispensary licences on Monday, the first of 175 the state plans to issue, with many in the first round reserved for applicants with past cannabis convictions. Eight went to non-profit groups.

CCB chair Tremaine Wright said: “This is a monumental moment and it represents the last leg of the cannabis supply chain that requires licensure.”

New York legalised recreational use in March 2021, but is still in the process of licensing sales.

Also this week in Oregon, Democratic Governor Kate Brown announced she was pardoning around 45,000 people convicted of simple possession of cannabis, and forgiving more than US$14 million in unpaid fines and fees

The move comes after Biden did the same for those convicted under federal law and in the District of Columbia last month.

The president has called on governors to issue pardons to those convicted of state cannabis offences, which make up the vast majority of possession cases. 

Brown said: “No-one deserves to be forever saddled with the impacts of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana – a crime that is no longer on the books in Oregon.”

And in Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order on Tuesday to legalise the possession and use of medicinal cannabis by eligible individuals in the state.

Beshear said he was taking executive action after the repeated failure of a bill to legalise and regulate medicinal cannabis in the General Assembly. 

The order, which goes into effect on January 1, 2023, lists 21 medical conditions that would deem a resident eligible to use and possess medicinal cannabis, subject to diagnosis by a physician in a written certification.

Eligible residents must also have a receipt confirming they bought their cannabis in another state, with a purchase and possession limit of eight ounces. 

Conditions include cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s.

Kentucky is one of only 13 US states to still outlaw cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes, although Beshear also signed an executive order regulating the sale of Delta-8 THC, which a judge recently declared to be legal in the state.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

Leave a comment