On Thursday, March 24, 2022, the Senate unanimously passed the CMRE Act (Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act) and House leadership scheduled the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity and Expungement Act) for a floor vote this week.

The current version of the CMRE Act would streamline the application process for researchers who want to study the plant and push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to encourage and promote the development of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals.  Under the CMRE Act, accredited medical and osteopathic schools, practitioners, research institutions and manufacturers with a Schedule I  registration could cultivate cannabis for research purposes. The Drug Enforcement Administration would have approval rights over applications for manufacturers of cannabis-derived, FDA-approved drugs under the bill.  The CMRE Act would also require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prepare a report on the potential health benefits of cannabis use as well as a report on the barriers to cannabis research and how to overcome them.  The legislation also clarifies that physicians may discuss the risks and benefits of cannabis use with patients without violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The CMRE Act is endorsed by major mainstream medical organizations as well as many pro-legalization groups. Some within the industry have raised concerns over the power DEA would wield over the application process, as well as ambiguity in the definitions of cannabidiol and cannabinoids in the legislation. An earlier version of the CMRE Act passed the Senate in 2020.  It remains to be seen whether this iteration will cross the legislative finish line.

The MORE Act, which we’ve previously written about on the Blog is scheduled to be taken up by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, with a possible floor vote by the end of the week.  The MORE Act passed the House last Congress.  The legislation is expected to hit a wall in the Senate where it will require 60 votes in order to advance.