Policy Reckoning and What it Means for Marijuana in the U.S.
Scott Gottlieb (the commissioner of the FDA) stated that “Federal action on marijuana policy is inevitable and will happen soon.” In an interview with CNBC Gottlieb said, “There’s probably going to be a policy reckoning around this at some point in the future. The word “reckoning” is up to speculation to exactly what the commissioner means.
It could mean that cannabis is legalized at the federal level or that the federal government could crack down on marijuana use even more. California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Alaska have already legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use.
As commissioner of the FDA, Gottlieb stated that the agency’s roles was not regulating recreational marijuana, but policing any medical claims companies make regarding marijuana products. Several companies who sell CBD products received FDA issued warning letters regarding the illegal sell of products that claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure cancer without proof.
According to the FDA’s Website, clinical trials conducted by researchers that meet certain standards have their support. They claim to be in cooperation with Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Georgia in efforts to research cannabis and its compounds. The FDA’s roll will be to determine whether their findings are in line with scientific requirements and federal mandates.
Despite all of this, Gottlieb has showed support for the legalization of marijuana. The FDA when approving Epidiolex (an epilepsy medicine containing CBD) concluded that CBD doesn’t deserve to be federally scheduled at all. The FDA also passed two drugs, Syndros and Marinol which contain dronabinol which is a synthetic form of THC. Cesamet which is also approved by the FDA has the ingredient nabilone which has chemical similarities to THC.
Joe Kennedy III, Representative (D-MA 4th District) has changed his views on marijuana. According to an opinion piece published on STAT, he believes marijuana should be legalized at the federal level. The state of Massachusetts has recently given the green light for dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana legally.
Kennedy also pointed out how the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug has hindered clinical research. Clinical research is such an obstacle in the United States that American companies have relocated their clinical facilities to Israel, where laws are more lenient.
In 2017 an amendment was blocked that would have shielded banks from federal prosecution due to working with Cannabis industries. Financial institutions that allow money from marijuana businesses are risking charges of money laundering and other crimes. Despite these risks at least 411 financial institutions based in the U.S. are currently dealing with transactions from Marijuana businesses.
This is a concern for Marijuana retailers who abide by the law and avoid banks. These businesses are vulnerable to robberies because they are forced to conduct their transactions with cash. Steve Mnuchin the Treasury Secretary, has informed Congress that he believes marijuana businesses should have access to banks.
Jim McGovern (D-MA) is taking over as chair of the House Rules Committee. The prior politician in charge of the House Rule Committee was Rep. Pete Sessions. This is a welcoming change for those involved in the Cannabis Industry. Rep. Pete Sessions used his power to reverse amendments that gave protection to legalized marijuana in 30 states.
McGovern on the other hand, stated that the committee will no longer sabotage efforts of marijuana reform. He has made comments that suggest that he’s willing to discuss these proposed amendments. Unlike Sessions, who killed amendments before they were even brought to the committee for review.
Marijuana is classified by the federal government under the same category as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote. According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs are chemicals defined by, high potential for abuse and with no accepted current medical use.
LSD and heroine have caused very dangerous and fatal consequences for its users. It’s impossible to overdose on unlaced or untampered marijuana. It’s true that bad reactions can be experienced when ingesting to much weed, but the same thing can be said for anything from water to aspirin. No one has suggested to ban water because of water intoxication, the same should be true for marijuana.