The Senate’s massive bi-partisan infrastructure bill has made it through the Senate amendment process and now heads to the House of Representatives before finally making it to the Oval Office for singing. However, House Speaker Leader Nancy Pelosi has committed to pressing pause on the infrastructure bill until the House receives another bill, a $3.5 trillion social spending package. Senate Majority Leader Schumer has promised that this package would also be finished by the end of August, having this Monday released a budget resolution calling for various House and Senate Committees to begin drafting the spending package.
The Infrastructure Bill
The bill currently includes provisions which would allow researchers to study cannabis coming from legal dispensaries, in addition to letting scientists from non-legal states access recreational cannabis from a legal state to conduct research, likely accessing said cannabis through a federal clearinghouse.
Instead of the cannabis grown at the University of Mississippi, which has a monopoly on research cannabis growth due to DEA policy (although DEA is beginning to let new places grow research cannabis). The problem with this research grade cannabis has been that the THC levels are incredibly low when compared to the levels present in medical and recreational grade cannabis. Research cannabis is usually closer to hemp in this case.
Additionally, the bill calls for an interagency report with recommendations for law enforcement testing for cannabis. This would also be complemented by state programs to inform drivers about driving under the influence of cannabis, but it is restricted to legal states, which is confusing.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein had introduced an amendment which would have helped to significantly expand cannabis and CBD research by expanding the number of institutions allowed to conduct research, create expediting pathways for researchers to get more Schedule I drugs including cannabis, and would allow doctors to discuss benefits and harms of cannabis without breaking the law. Unfortunately, the amendment was only introduced, and not taken up or voted on, so it did not make it.
In addition, just last month the House Appropriations Committee put forth its 2022 Fiscal Year spending bill, which eliminates the ban on using local public funds to legalize cannabis in Washington D.C.
The Fiscal spending bill also includes a provision that the funds specifically given in this bill cannot be used by the Treasury Department to penalize financial institutions aiding a cannabis-adjacent or canna-business, and it says nothing about the Department of Justice. This provision obviously does not go as far as the SAFE Banking Act, which would completely remove penalties and legal punishments for banks, insurers, and other financial institutions from working with cannabis and cannabis-related businesses and those involved. This act has been put in the backseat as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to prioritize his cannabis bill, which could include SAFE Banking provisions.