In addition to Feinstein and Grassley, the bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
CBD is a component of marijuana that is considered politically “safer” than THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) because it is non-psychoactive. The problem with “CBD-only” legislation — which has already been passed in a number of Southern and heartland states as some sort of political cover for conservatives and centrists who are a bit too timid to embrace actual medical marijuana — is that it doesn’t take into account the “Entourage Effect,” which means all the naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant work best in concert.“Cumbersome research regulations have made it difficult to conduct research on the potential medical benefits of marijuana,” Senator Feinstein said. “I strongly believe such research is necessary, especially for cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana.
“This bill paves the way for new research to be conducted with greater ease to determine if cannabidiol can be an effective medication for serious illnesses such as intractable epilepsy,” Sen. Feinstein said.“The parents of children with severe epilepsy and other conditions are interested in cannabidiol to try to ease their children’s symptoms,” Senator Grassley said. “I understand their interest.
“Research is necessary to determine the potential medical value of cannabidiol, and wherever possible, the government should help facilitate the scientific research needed to give these parents the answers they need,” Sen. Grassley said.
Currently, CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug. As a result, research on CBD is subject to extremely stringent regulations, which has posed a significant obstacle to medical developments and research.Thousands of parents nationwide have used CBD oil to help their children who suffer from intractable epilepsy, often with positive results. However, because no drug products containing CBD have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to date, CBD is unregulated and its effectiveness is unpredictable.
The goal of the Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act is to ensure research on CBD and other potentially beneficial marijuana-derived substances is based on sound science while simultaneously reducing the regulatory barriers associated with conducting research on marijuana.
The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.Key provisions of the bill include:
- Requiring the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to complete an analysis to determine the medical value of CBD within one year.
- Allowing research on CBD to be conducted using a Schedule II registration, rather than the more stringent Schedule I classification. (Unfortunately, Schedule II would effectively hand control of CBD over to Big Pharma.)
- Streamlining the process by which researchers notify the federal government of changes to their research protocols or quantity of marijuana needed.
- Reducing research barriers by requiring changes to approved protocols to be determined in 30 days.
- Allowing accredited research institutions, medical schools, practitioners and pharmaceutical companies to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess marijuana or cannabidiol for the purpose of authorized medical research.
- Creating a pathway for the commercial production of FDA-approved marijuana-derived medications.
- Allowing the possession of non-psychoactive components of marijuana solely for the treatment of epilepsy.
- Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to expand research on CBD and other non-psychoactive components of marijuana.