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House passes bill to broaden marijuana research

House passes bill to broaden marijuana research
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The House on Wednesday passed legislation that would expand scientists’ ability to study marijuana in states where the drug is already legal. 

The bill, which passed in a bipartisan voice vote, is the second time this month the House has passed marijuana-related legislation. On Friday, the Democratic-controlled chamber approved legislation that would end federal marijuana prohibitions, though that bill is unlikely to get a Senate vote as long as it remains under a Republican majority.

The legislation passed Wednesday would remove prohibitions under the Controlled Substances Act on researching the drug and direct the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice to create a body to grant licenses to more producers and manufacturers of research marijuana. Researchers with federal licenses would also be permitted to use those products for research approved under the Food and Drug Administration. 

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Marijuana research is currently limited to just a few strains grown by the University of Mississippi, the only institution in the country that is legally allowed to produce the drug under federal research laws. Scientists have said the university’s marijuana does not represent that which is used for everyday consumption, and expanded research opportunities have bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said last year it would begin processing applications from other institutions to grow research marijuana, though none have been approved. Advocates had remained skeptical that the DEA under President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE would allow for expanded marijuana research. 

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE has not spoken extensively about marijuana research in particular, though he has taken a less hostile stance than Trump and other Republicans and has come out in favor of decriminalizing the drug and expunging past criminal convictions for possession.