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US: House to vote on cannabis research bill

Just days after passing a far-reaching bill to federally legalize cannabis, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote Monday on separate legislation to remove barriers to conducting research on cannabis, including by allowing scientists to access products from state-legal dispensaries.

The Medical Marijuana Research Act, sponsored by the unlikely duo of pro-legalization Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and prohibitionist Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), would streamline the process for researchers to apply and get approved to study cannabis and set clear deadlines on federal agencies to act on their applications. It would also make it easier for scientists to modify their research protocols without having to seek federal approval.

The move to hold a House vote comes less that two weeks after the Senate unanimously passed a different cannabis research bill. Both chambers passed earlier versions of their respective legislation in late 2020, but nothing ended up getting to the then-President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the last Congress.

It remains to be seen if, following the House’s expected passage of its bill again on Monday, whether the two chambers will be able to negotiate a deal on provisions of unified legislation to send to President Joe Biden.

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