Even as the majority of Americans have embraced legalizing marijuana either for medicinal or recreational use, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have remained staunch opponents of weed. Now led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, they’ve done everything they can to maintain the nation’s dysfunctional marijuana regulatory system, one that’s pitted the majority of states against the federal government’s continued prohibition of pot. On Thursday, however, things changed at the Capitol, as the powerful House Judiciary Committee unanimously took a historic, bipartisan step to unwind a small, but significant, part of the federal government’s anti-marijuana regime.
The committee passed a first-ever bill to ease some of the restrictions that have prevented marijuana from being widely studied for medicinal benefits. If it passes both chambers of Congress, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 would require Sessions to approve at least two new applications to grow and study marijuana, which the