Marijuana Reform Bill Needs Approval From This GOP Senator To Reach Biden's Desk, Why Does He Oppose It?

Following a push from researchers associated with the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) to advance the bipartisan that would substantially expand scientific cannabis research in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, the chamber's minority leader, kicked off the process to pass the measure.

A revised version of the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act from Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD) got the green light from the U.S. House of Representatives in July in a 325-95 vote.

The process was initiated on Thursday. Known as hotlining, the practice allows bypassing regular Senate procedures by advancing the legislation through to a vote with little or no floor debate.

However, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) opposes the move thus putting the vote in question, as first reported by Marijuana Moment. In an ideal scenario, with no objections, the bill would have advanced through the Senate swiftly, reaching President Joe Biden's desk for final approval and becoming the first standalone marijuana reform legislation to be enacted into law.

A source on Capitol Hill known to Marijuana Moment said that the GOP lawmaker plans to veto all House measures that were approved by unanimous consent in the Senate. The reason behind that move is Cornyn's frustration that House members didn't pass more of his own legislation earlier.

The Senator previously opposed a House-approved cannabis legalization bill, calling it "premature" as "we need to have some serious studies into the impact on developing children's brains and pregnant women and alike." Ironically, he is now opposing a measure that would expand marijuana research.

What's In The Bill

According to the twelve members of SAM's Scientific Advisory Board sent to Schumer earlier this week, the bill would provide a better understanding of marijuana and its effects.

"This bill would streamline the process for research necessary to improve our understanding of marijuana and its effects on the human brain and body," the researchers said. "As existing research already shows, there are myriad potential harms and benefits to marijuana and its various compounds. But we need to have a greater understanding of exactly how marijuana affects its consumers."

In a press release, SAM's president Kevin Sabet said it is "vital" that standalone science reach President Biden's desk because marijuana use rates among Americans are growing by the day.

"With more Americans using marijuana today than ever before, it is critical that we streamline the process for research," Sabet said, adding that the measure is the "only marijuana reform legislation that has enough support to pass Congress."

The measure was reintroduced in February 2021 and passed last April by the House of Representatives. It seeks to facilitate cannabis-specific scientific research and potential drug development. Also, the legislation would substantially expand scientific research on marijuana, allowing scientists to study products from dispensaries.

The Senate green-lighted a separate piece of legislation focused on marijuana research in March. The bill from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act, seeks to simplify the application process for researchers wanting to study cannabis.

Photo: Benzinga Edit, Source: Shutterstock

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsMarketsGeneralbillBrian SchatzChuck GrassleyChuck SchumerDianne FeinsteinJohn CornynKevin SabetLegalizationmarijuana
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