WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSMiami) – Florida Reps. Donna Shalala (FL-27) and Matt Gaetz (FL-01) filed bipartisan legislation Thursday that would facilitate research into the potential medical benefits and public health impacts of marijuana.

The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act would develop a national cannabis research agenda, direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on the health impacts of cannabis, establish a National Institutes of Health “Centers of Excellence” research designation, and reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance.

“For years now, states across the country have been liberalizing their cannabis laws without making corresponding investments in developing a better scientific understanding of the short and long-term benefits and effects of cannabis on human health,” said Rep. Shalala in an emailed press release. “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.”

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Congressman Matt Gaetz said, “This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will improve, expedite, and streamline cannabis research: by rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III, this bill will lessen the conflict between states and the federal government, and by designating “Centers of Excellence in Cannabis Research,” it will help unlock cures for America’s most vulnerable populations.”

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried supports the legislation.

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in Florida, I thank Congresswoman Shalala and Congressman Gaetz for their bipartisan leadership in Congress to further critical cannabis research,” said Fried. “Federal cannabis policy must be changed to better provide safe and compassionate treatment options for those in need, and the Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act is a welcome step forward.”

Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult cannabis use, while 33 states have legalized medical cannabis use including Florida. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no medical benefit.