U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Backs Bipartisan Bill on Marijuana Research

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. (File image via Reuters)
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. (File image via Reuters)

The House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte has agreed on Wednesday to co-sponsor a Florida Republicans bipartisan bill to make medical marijuana research easier.

“I can confirm that the [House Judiciary] chairman will co-sponsor,” said Kathryn Rexrode, a spokesman for Goodlatte, who is not running for re-election, in an email on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.

Goodlatte backing the bipartisan bill is yet in another sign that the U.S. political establishment is gradually seeing marijuana‘s benefits at least medicinally.

On Tuesday night, Representative Matt Gaetz started circulating a handout explaining his Medical Cannabis Research Act.

The handout listed Goodlatte, a conservative Republican from Virginia, as a co-sponsor.

The bill is expected to be introduced either on Wednesday or Thursday, a spokesman for Gaetz said, adding that its sponsors are set to hold a news conference on Thursday.

Bloomberg, which had obtained a draft of the legislation on Tuesday, said the bill’s summary listed current co-sponsors as Goodlatte and fellow Republicans Dana Rohrabacher of California and Karen Handel of Georgia; as well as Democrats Alcee Hastings and Darren Soto of Florida; Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

To Offer “Safe Harbor” for Researchers

The bill would allow a higher number of federally approved manufacturers of cannabis for research purposes. In order for research institutions not to lose federal funding, the bill would also offer a “safe harbor” for researchers and patients in clinical trials.

The measure will also allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to refer patients for clinical trials, and eligible researchers at the VA could perform research on medical cannabis. In early this year, the VA disappointed many veterans after announcing that it won’t allow the research of marijuana.

Described as fostering innovation, the bill will make it easier for industry leaders to work with researchers to develop new scientific breakthroughs.

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