Representatives Donna Shalala and Matt Gaetz have introduced a bipartisan bill that seeks to reclassify cannabis at a federal level in order to boost research efforts.
The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act seeks to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.
Shalala and Gaetz believe that its current classification prevents scientists from properly examining its benefits and effects. Moving it down to Schedule III would make it easier for researchers to study cannabis and lessen the conflict between the federal government and the 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis use.
“By rescheduling cannabis and directing our national research infrastructure to study and collect data on how it impacts health outcomes, we are not only bringing federal cannabis policy into the 21st century, but we’re also guaranteeing that we do so safely,” said Shalala, a Democrat.
She previously served as Health and Human Services secretary during the Clinton administration. At the time, she was a prominent critic of cannabis liberalization, but she has since changed her tune and said that decriminalizing marijuana should be considered a moral imperative.
Gaetz wants to improve, expedite and streamline cannabis research in order to develop a better scientific understanding of its short and long-term benefits and effects of cannabis on human health.
The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act is identical companion legislation to a bill filed by Sen. Dick Durbin in July.
It would develop a national cannabis research agenda, instruct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on the health impacts of cannabis and establish a National Institutes of Health “Centers of Excellence” research designation, along with reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance.
It follows news of the DEA unveiling plans to increase the amount of marijuana legally produced for research purposes in the U.S. by 30% in 2020.