The House of Representatives on Thursday added an amendment to a spending package that would protect state-legal marijuana businesses from the Department of Justice.
The amendment, according to its description, would "prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state and tribal cannabis programs." Congressional Cannabis Caucus founder Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., sponsored the amendment, which passed 254-163, including 31 Republicans who voted in favor of it.
The provision is unlikely to become law, as the bill it is attached to will still have to make it through the GOP-controlled Senate; and Congress, as polarized as it currently is, is unlikely to pass a large funding package like the one the House was considering Thursday.
DEMS' $3T CORONAVIRUS BILL INCLUDES MARIJUANA BANKING PROTECTIONS
"We have passed out of committee the MORE Act out of the Judiciary Committee, which would fully legalize cannabis, and make no mistake, that day is coming," Blumenauer said on the House floor. "In the meantime, until that day of reckoning comes, we must pass this amendment to ensure the federal government doesn't deal with -- does not interfere with -- state cannabis activities."
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., spoke out against the amendment.
"This proposal... would prevent the federal law enforcement from enforcing current law, protecting public health and ensuring community safety," he said. "Claims of benefits from smoked or ingested marijuana are very unreliable and generally outright fabrication."
He continued that the amendment "sends the false message to youth that smoking marijuana is healthy."
Dr. Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes efforts to legalize marijuana, said in a statement he was concerned about the House's amendment, particularly because of the strength of modern-day marijuana.
"Today’s pot products can be 99% pure THC. Why would we protect its manufacturers? It is disheartening to see the House bend to the demands of the marijuana industry by supporting these provisions," Sabet said.
Those in the marijuana industry supported the inclusion of the Blumenauer amendment but noted that it doesn't change the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaks at a press conference during the introduction of the Zero Waste Act in Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC. An amendment by Blumenauer to keep the DOJ from interfering in state marijuana programs was approved by the House Thursday. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Getty)
"Any inclusion that addresses protections for the cannabis industry is definitely a win, but they’re all band-aids for an issue that requires much more," Avis Bulbulyan, the CEO of Siva Enterprises, a consulting firm that helps cannabis businesses navigate regulations and limits around the industry, said. "The reality is that the federal government hasn’t really enforced any action against any state-licensed cannabis company that has been in compliance with their respective state regulations, be it medical or adult-use."
Stuart Titus, the CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc., however, said the amendment will provide peace of mind to those in the industry: "I think that all cannabis businesses have some level of fear that the DOJ could someday come in and ruin their livelihood and this kind of legislation could prevent that."
The big-ticket piece of legislation in Congress right now is the next coronavirus relief package. That could see a showdown over protections included in the House Democrats' version of the bill for banks that work with marijuana businesses -- Republicans have criticized the provision as one among many on a liberal wish list unrelated to the coronavirus crisis.
In the botanical world, there are, broadly speaking, two kinds of cannabis – hemp plants and drug plants. Hemp plants include plants grown for fiber and plants grown for seed oil. Drug plants include intoxicating THC-rich plants and non-intoxicating CBD-rich plants.
The main difference between hemp plants and drug plants is resin content. Industrial hemp plants are low-resin plants. Drug plants are high-resin plants. “Marijuana” (spelled with a ‘j’ or ‘h’) is the colloquial name for the flower tops of high resin cannabis.
Industrial hemp varieties are typically grown from pedigree seed, yielding as many as one hundred tall, skinny, bamboo-like plants (with skimpy foliage) per square meter. These plants are machine harvested and manufactured into many different products like paper, cloth, and edible oil.
Drug plants, by comparison, are typically grown from asexually reproduced clones, one to two bushy plants per square meter, and its flowers are hand-harvested, dried, trimmed and cured. The flowers are then consumed for their intoxicating and medicinal effects.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RESIN
U.S. federal law originally defined marihuana in terms of resin content. Resin was mentioned no less than three times in the two-sentence definition of “marihuana” encoded in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which was copied word-for-word from the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, the legislation that made cannabis effectively illegal:
The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. [sic], whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.
In essence, the CSA asserts that certain parts of the plant (“mature stalk” and “sterilized seed”) are exempt from the legal definition of marijuana. But the flowers, the leaves, and the sticky resin were not included in this exemption. The resin and its derivatives were explicitly forbidden wherever they are found on the plant.
The CSA was unequivocal on this point: the resin from any part of the cannabis plant, or any preparation made from the resin, is illegal. Fiber produced from hemp stalk and oil pressed from unfertilized hempseed got a pass, but not the resin.
But as far as medicinal and recreational cannabis goes, the resin is where the action is. Cannabis resin is contained within the heads of tiny, mushroom-shaped trichomes, found mainly on the plant’s odiferous female flowers (the buds) and to a lesser extent on the leaves. The sticky, gooey resin contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), along with hundreds of other secondary plant metabolites (primarily other cannabinoids and terpenes) that augment human brain chemistry and ease physiological and psychological distress.
Hemp seed oil, it should be noted, is not the same as CBD-rich oil extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant. Oil pressed from hemp seed contains no CBD, no THC, no plant cannabinoids to speak of, but it’s excellent for making varnish, paint, soap, protein-enriched food supplements, and much more
A TINY AMOUNT OF THC
Right from the start, the Feds understood that resin content is the key factor that distinguishes marijuana from industrial hemp. Today, however, federal law includes a recently added caveat that officially characterizes industrial hemp as having no more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. Products containing such a tiny amount of THC should not have an intoxicating effect.
Where did the 0.3 percent THC figure come from? It stems from a 1976 taxonomic report by Canadian plant scientists Ernest Small and Arthur Cronquist., who never intended for 0.3 percent THC to function as a legal demarcation between hemp and other forms of cannabis.
But that’s exactly what happened. According to current federal law, cannabis is considered hemp – not marijuana – as long as no part of the plant (including the leaves and flowers) exceeds a THC concentration of “more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” Any plant that tops 0.3 percent THC is considered marijuana and is therefore federally illegal to grow, according to Uncle Sam.
The passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (otherwise known as the Farm Bill) defined “industrial hemp” for the first time in U.S. history and distinguished it legally from marijuana. The ‘0.3 percent THC or less’ qualification for hemp was enshrined in Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act and renewed when Congress approved the 2018 Farm Bill.
There was no mention of resin in the 2018 Farm Bill, which a cynic might refer to as the ‘Keep Marijuana Illegal Bill.’ To put it bluntly, the 0.3 percent THC legal limit is an arbitrary, impractical, euphoria-phobic relic of reefer madness. Although it lacks a scientific basis, it has become the latest lynchpin of cannabis prohibition, a dishonest, anachronistic policy that impedes medical discovery and blocks patient access to valuable therapeutic options, including herbal extracts with various combinations of CBD and THC.
Despite its shortcomings, the Farm Bill is a momentous leap forward. It is now legal for American farmers to cultivate hemp as a commercial crop on domestic soil – a long overdue development catalyzed by the huge public demand for CBD.
On the day it became law (December 20, 2018), the Farm Bill removed hemp, but not cannabis, from the list of controlled substances. The Farm Bill also explicitly removed hemp products, including hemp-derived CBD, from the purview of CSA – but not from the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which maintains that hemp-derived CBD is neither a legitimate food supplement nor a medication approved for off-label use.
Meanwhile, CBD oil derived from any cannabis plant with over 0.3 percent THC remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law. It’s unclear how regulators will tell the difference between illegal cannabis-derived CBD oil and seemingly not-illegal, hemp-derived CBD oil given that the actual CBD molecule is the same.
The best source of CBD oil is organically grown, high-resin, CBD-rich cannabis not low-resin industrial hemp. Why? Because the more resin in the plant, the more CBD there is to extract. Low-resin industrial hemp grown for fiber or seed oil is not an optimal source of CBD for several reasons:
BEYOND CAnABIS VS HEMP
Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, most of the CBD products available in the United States were derived from low-resin industrial hemp grown in Europe and China. Now that cultivating hemp is legal again in the United States, it should be easier to obtain better quality CBD products made from hemp grown in Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, Vermont and other states.
The most prodigious source of cannabidiol are high-resin CBD-rich cannabis plants that tip the scales at 20 percent CBD by dry weight and around one percent THC. Unfortunately, under the current legal regime that’s too much THC to qualify as hemp, even though anyone who smoked the resinous flower tops wouldn’t get high because CBD is not intoxicating like THC. It can, however, do a person a world of good if they are struggling with pain or anxiety or depression.
Cannabis is a highly adaptable botanical; it can thrive in various environments, legal and ecological. It responds well to the human hand, which has stretched the genetic capabilities of the plant in unprecedented ways.
Against a shifting regulatory landscape, the distinction between hemp and other forms of cannabis is fast becoming moot. American horticulturists are successfully breeding high-resin cannabis varietals that satisfy the Farm Bill’s criteria for hemp – with THC measuring below 0.3 percent and double-digit CBD levels by dry weight.
In other words, farmers are now growing high resin cannabis (“marijuana”) with less than 0.3 percent THC. If that sounds a bit confusing, that’s because it is a bit confusing. But this much is clear: If grown, extracted and processed well, these CBD-rich plants qualify as good starter material for manufacturing CBD oil for medicinal and personal use
he World Health Organization (WHO) wasn’t a household name. That was, until it became the subject of public health and political controversy surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from mitigating global pandemics, the WHO plays a significant role in the consideration of cannabis as a controlled substance on a global basis through the United Nations (UN). In January 2019, the WHO expressly recommended that cannabis be rescheduled and also provided clarity to its treatment of cannabinoids, like CBD. While the UN has delayed taking action on the recommendation, it begs the question of whether or not we’re on the verge of global cannabis policy reform.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 is an international treaty prohibiting production and supply of specific drugs and of drugs with similar effects — except under governmental license for specific purposes, such as medical treatment and research.
Under the Single Convention, Cannabis (not “marihuana” or “marijuana”) is categorized alongside cocaine and heroin as a dangerous substance with no medicinal benefit and a high potential for abuse. The UN Convention doesn’t distinguish between marijuana or hemp or make other legal distinctions that exist in the United States, but defines the substance as “cannabis” and generally comments on the legality of its various uses. This excludes most “industrial” uses of cannabis, or what we think of as non-psychoactive hemp in the United States, from UN control. These industrial uses can include applications for textiles, bioplastics, pulp for paper, and biofuels, just to name a few.
The Single Convention is not self-executing, meaning that signatory countries must pass domestic legislation to fulfill their treaty obligations. As a result, the U.S. passed the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) in 1971. Departing from the Single Convention, “cannabis” is not included anywhere in the CSA. Rather, “marihuana” and other items are listed on separate “schedules” within the CSA.
The spelling of “Marihuana” with an “h” is significant. The plant was traditionally referred to as cannabis, as set forth in the Single Convention. But “marijuana” or “marihuana” were colloquial terms borrowed from Mexican Spanish, as described by the Brookings Institution in Marijuana: A Short History. They carry racist undertones well documented from the early days of Henry Anslinger’s campaign to prohibit cannabis in the United States. Under the CSA, “Marihuana” is a Schedule I drug “with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — similar to the Single Convention.
The U.N. created the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to monitor and amend the designations assigned to substances, which is where the WHO comes in. It’s required by international law to research medical and scientific benefits and risks associated with substances such as cannabis. In turn, the CND implements the WHO’s recommendations when making scheduling decisions regarding a plant or substance. So how significant was the WHO’s recent recommendations on cannabis to the CND?
In early 2019, the WHO recommended the CND reschedule cannabis and that cannabis “resin be deleted from Schedule 4 of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs (1961),” (the most restrictive category, like the CSA’s Schedule I). In addition, the report recommended that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) be “deleted from the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971) and added to Schedule 1 of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs (1961).” Regarding CBD, the report recommended that cannabis extracts containing up to .2% THC not be scheduled within the drug control conventions. This signified a monumental change and the codifying of the medicinal value of cannabis. Further, it provided clarity around the international trade of CBD products.
Nonetheless, policy change never moves as quickly as one would like. Presently, the CND is planning to move forward with a vote on these recommendations this December at UN Headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
In December 2018, I attended the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna thanks to the organizing efforts of For Alternative Approaches to Addiction, Think & do tank (FAAAT). While at that time major cannabis reform commitments were expected, no policy changes came to fruition and the international trade of CBD remains hindered by the lack of action.
In 2020, the CND again delayed a decision. Absent further delays or postponements, this December will bring the day of reckoning. Will the WHO’s recommendations finally take effect?
Not so fast. Even if the CND enacts the recommendations, the legality of cannabis won’t change. Further, it doesn’t remove global cannabis controls from the Single Convention. The complexities of implementing the recommendations present challenges on every front.
Here’s an example: if the UN were to adopt these changes, or even if the Single Convention were abolished in its entirety (highly unlikely), its tenets continue to be ingrained in the United States’s CSA and the domestic laws of its numerous signatories. Until those laws are also repealed, amended, altered or otherwise modified, nothing will change overnight because of the political will and conflict in signatory countries.
When I examine the WHO recommendations closely, I think that most would have little impact on international drug controls and some could actually tighten requirements. Tremendous hurdles remain in signatory countries relating to technology or human resources to ensure compliance with some of the recommendations. The most obvious surround detecting specific THC content and/or the cannabinoid makeup of extracts from cannabis. The recommendations may require the creation of additional controls. In order to comply, the UN needs to set international standardized testing for THC and applicable control requirements, so that national authorities can monitor and report information to the UN.
These standards, while creating clarity, would also create a tremendous burden on member states upon implementation. And different regulatory and licensing standards would need to be present for the cultivation and/or extraction of CBD and or delta-9-THC for industrial purposes as described in the 1961 Convention.
While these policy considerations by global agencies bode well for cannabis reform, they’ll take years to implement. And that may lead to tightened controls and additional levels of regulation – perhaps not the outcome activists and lobbyists had envisioned for international cannabis policy reform.
But it’s a start. Progress takes patience and progress has definitely been made. Cannabis policy reform and the recognition of the plant’s potential, based on facts and science, have created a monumental global movement. Reform won't happen overnight, but it’s come too far to stop now. A whole pail of water couldn’t cool it down.
Congress Will Legalize Marijuana in 2021 Despite Biden Opposition, Democratic Senator Says -Published on July 13, 2020 By Kyle Jaeger
A Democratic U.S. senator says that if his party reclaims the Senate and White House in November, lawmakers will “move very quickly” to legalize marijuana regardless of where presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stands on the issue.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) was asked about a variety of cannabis-related issues during an interview on Saturday, and he said Democrats are positioned to advance marijuana reform as soon as they have a majority in both chambers of Congress. While Biden remains opposed to adult-use legalization, the senator said supporters will have the votes to pass it in any case.
“From my perspective, this is another issue that’s just right there on the ballot in November,” he told The Young Jurks podcast. “We’ll move very quickly in January to change these laws to make sure that there are national protections which are put in place. But unfortunately, Trump controls the discretionary use of these personnel, and they’re kind of committed to keeping this crazy non scientifically based analysis of marijuana front-and-center.”
Markey said he and home state colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are “confronted with this obstinate, obdurate opposition from the Trump administration.”
Host Mike Crawford pressed the senator on Biden’s position on legalization, noting that advocates might not like Trump but they’re also turned off by the former vice president due to his insistence that additional research on cannabis is needed before supports broad reform. Biden currently backs medical marijuana legalization, federal rescheduling, expungements and allowing states to set their own policies.
“We’ll have the majority of the votes in the United States Senate,” Markey responded. “And I know [Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)] has moved in that direction, he’ll be the majority leader in January. I think we’ll have votes to just move it, and the science has moved there.”
Watch Markey discuss marijuana policy, starting around 25:45 into the video below:
“I think what’s going to happen on so many issues is that Congress is a stimulus-response institution, and there’s nothing more stimulating to what’s happening out there—on climate change, on cannabis,” he added. “And after this election… we need to move on these policies and have our own 1933, our own New Deal.”
Some advocates were hopeful that a criminal justice reform task force organized by Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would recommend that the presumptive nominee adopt a pro-legalization stance, that did not ultimately come to fruition, with the panel recommending a series of modest reforms last week that stop short of ending federal prohibition.
But Markey—who recently debated his primary election challenger, formerly anti-legalization Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), on cannabis issues—is confident that should Democrats take back the Senate, lawmakers will pass their own version of a “New Deal” that includes comprehensive marijuana reform, addressing climate change and guaranteeing universal healthcare.
“All issues go through three phases: political education, political activation, political implementation. We’re now through the political education on climate and marijuana, we’re into the activation stage, and in November, implementation,” he said. “We win the election and then we begin to just legislate on the floor on Medicare for All on Green New Deal, marijuana—just to move the country, legislatively, to where it already is operationally in their lives and what they want to see happen.”
Also in the interview, the senator discussed the importance of cannabis industry workers being able to unionize and voiced support for a proposal from Shaleen Title of Massachusetts’s Cannabis Control Commission to establish a loan program for economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs using tax revenue from marijuana sales.
Asked about providing expungements for prior cannabis offenses, Markey said he’s in favor of that policy and that “we criminalized these low-level drug issues for too long.”
“[Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)] is going to be up here and endorsing me this week, and he has something called the Next Step Act, which I’m his cosponsor on it, which goes to this expungement issue,” he said. “We just can’t have people walking around for the rest of their lives with with something that should not have been a crime. So, yes, the answer is absolutely yes, and Cory Booker and I are going to be talking about that this week.”
The FDA announced in a press release on Monday that it had approved the “first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy.”
Prior to this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved only three cannabinoid-based medicines. None of the approved drugs contain, or are derived from, the whole cannabis plant. Instead, they are all created from isolated synthetics that do not offer the benefits of the entourage effect.
FDA Grants Approval of EpidiolexOn June 26, 2018, the FDA granted approval of Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution, to GW Research Ltd (GW). The new drug is indicated for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older. It is also the first FDA approval of a drug for the treatment of patients with Dravet syndrome.
Epidiolex contains less than 0.1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid responsible for producing “high” psychoactive effects when consumed.
“It’s fantastic. This has been a complete tipping point,” says George Scorsis, CEO of Liberty Health Sciences, the U.S. branch of Aphria, Inc., a Canada-based medical cannabis firm. “It rapidly destigmatizes what cannabis can do.”
Using CBD Oil To Treat SeizuresUse of CBD in seizure prevention is well-documented with research; and now, after conducting its own trials, the FDA appears to agree.
Epidiolex’s effectiveness was studied in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 516 patients with either Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex, taken along with other medications, was shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of seizures when compared with placebo. Further, in support of GW’s application, the company conducted nonclinical and clinical studies to assess the abuse potential of CBD.
The most common side effects that occurred in Epidiolex clinical trials were: sleepiness, sedation and lethargy; elevated liver enzymes; decreased appetite; diarrhea; rash; fatigue, malaise and weakness; insomnia, sleep disorder and poor quality sleep; and infections.
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies.” –FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb
Clinical trials show that Epidiolex significantly reduces seizure frequency. Depending on dosage, Dravet patients saw a 39 percent drop in convulsive seizures, while those suffering from LSG experienced 37 to 41 percent decrease in seizures.
In its press release, the FDA professed to “continue to support rigorous scientific research on the potential medical uses of marijuana-derived products and work with product developers who are interested in bringing patients safe and effective, high quality products. But, at the same time, we are prepared to take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with serious, unproven medical claims. Marketing unapproved products, with uncertain dosages and formulations can keep patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.”
“I hope patients have conversations with their physicians about whether this product (Epidiolex) provides them with treatment they have been looking for with other unapproved products,” said Douglas Throckmorton, deputy director of regulatory programs at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Approval of Epidiolex won’t affect hemp-derived CBD, which is exempt from the Controlled Substances Act under the Farm Bill.
The Next Move Is On The DEAEpidiolex’s launch is in the hands of the DEA. The FDA news implied that it will recommend CBD be rescheduled, but acknowledged the act of shifting its legality is ultimately up to the DEA. Many are predicting a reclassification will occur within 90 days, but it is unclear exactly what a reclassification would include.
GW told CNBC that it has not yet set a price for the medicine and will be working with insurance providers to ensure it is covered under health plans. Many patients already have access to CBD products in medical marijuana dispensaries and compassion centers where it is legal. Time will tell if they switch to the new prescription CBD drug, or stay with what is already working for them. Insurance coverage could well be the deciding factor.
Perhaps surprising to some, Rite Aid told CNNMoney that it would sell Epidiolex once the DEA schedules it. Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart did not provide a comment. This trend follows in the footsteps of Canada, where pharmacies across the nation have begun to strike deals with licensed producers to begin selling cannabis in their store-fronts.
The Washington Post reports that Epidiolex will continue to be manufactured in the U.K., and will be marketed by Greenwich Biosciences, the U.S. subsidiary of GW Pharmaceuticals. The company is currently testing other CBD treatments for glioblastoma and schizophrenia.
by Nanette Porteron June 29, 2018
The United States Department of Defense and GW Pharmaceuticals are collaborating on a new clinical trial at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York. The study examines the effect of the cannabinoid Cannabidivarin, more commonly referred to as CBDV, on irritability and repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers are hoping to discover if CBDV is a viable solution for treating the symptoms typically associated with this disorder.
CBDV is a non-psychotropic compound (meaning it does not affect a person’s mental state), making the chemistry and benefits of CBDV more similar to those of the cannabinoid CBD than those of THC (which is best known for its euphoric effects).
“In some of the animal models that are similar to autism, it was found that CBDV had important effects on social functioning, on decreasing seizures, on increasing cognitive function, and in reducing compulsive or repetitive behavior.” – Dr. Hollander
Dr. Eric Hollander, the Director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program and Anxiety and Depression Program at Montefiore Hospital, is leading the clinical trial. Dr. Hollander brings 30 years of experience in autism spectrum disorder research to the team. The CBDV compound for the trial is being shipped from the United Kingdom to Dr. Eric Hollander.
Dr. Hollander believes the cannabis extract holds hope for treating autism symptoms in humans based on the success it has had reducing seizure activity in mice. “And that was one of our thoughts, why this CBDV could be helpful,” Hollander told CNN. “Because if it helps with epilepsy and it helps in terms of decreasing the spike activity, we might also get improvement in some of the aggression, or the self-injury, or the temper tantrums.”
“In some of the animal models that are similar to autism, it was found that CBDV had important effects on social functioning, on decreasing seizures, on increasing cognitive function, and in reducing compulsive or repetitive behavior,” Hollander said. “So for that reason, we wanted to apply that to autism.”
This isn’t the first time GW Pharmaceuticals is making waves in the cannabis industry. In 2018, the FDA granted approval of Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution, to GW Research Ltd. Epidiolex is indicated for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older. It is also the first FDA approval of a drug for the treatment of patients with Dravet syndrome.
There is no known cure for autism. The results from this study are to be finalized in September 2021.
by Nanette Porteron October 03, 2019
The economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred interest in an otherwise seldom discussed subject matter - the federal legalization of marijuana. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, economic recovery seems to be the push for vice industries to go mainstream. A comparison has been drawn between our present circumstance and the ending of the prohibition era as a result of the Great Depression. Ultimately, ending prohibition was seen as a strategy intended to stimulate economic recovery. The question is, will federal policymakers, or a potential presidential candidate, take a play from FDR’s playbook by legalizing marijuana?
While the prospect of federal marijuana legalization is no doubt something that folks across the industry celebrate, it’s necessary to examine potential unintended consequences. While it may come as a surprise, federal legalization could actually disrupt progress, particularly for states that have led the charge, like Colorado.
New Frontier Data recently published a finding that over the past six years of medical and adult-use marijuana in Colorado, the industry has produced nearly $8 billion in revenue, accounting for more than a billion dollars in taxes, and employing 39,000 people.
Without clear leadership and simple, definitive policy surrounding federal legalization, hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost, and millions of dollars in U.S. government funds could be wasted in uncoordinated and directionless bureaucratic agency action. This has been highlighted by a recent Justice Department whistleblower who publicly revealed cannabis industry targeted antitrust investigations launched at the direction of Attorney General, William Barr.
While Barr’s witch hunt illustrates a contemporary example of wasted government funds, let’s talk policy-wise about how the U.S. cannabis industry may have been impacted if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election. The Clinton campaign embraced an approach to reschedule marijuana to Schedule II, effectively aiming to merge the over-the-counter model with the pharmaceutical. This would have required existing recreational dispensaries to obtain a waiver, exception, or ignorance to continue thriving. It’s not clear those requirements would have been there under a Clinton presidency as her administration was clear in an effort to hand the industry over to pharmaceutical companies.
When you look at regulation from a global perspective, the reality here is clear; the over-the-counter policy lane and the pharmaceutical lane need to exist side by side, they are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, the fallout from a policy change of this magnitude could push momentum back to the black market, which has been gradually losing steam as more and more states have enacted policy for legalization.
Frankly, Biden’s position isn’t much clearer. His administration has offered little clarity on the subject of marijuana. While President Trump has not been most friendly to the cannabis industry, in recent years, spending provisions have been allowed to exist, and have even been sponsored by his administration. Further, republicans have proposed perhaps the most common sensical provision, the States Act.
The States Act grants each state autonomy to participate or not participate in a legalized marijuana scenario. Why force states that don’t want legal marijuana to have it? If a state chooses to participate, it is granted the freedom to create a robust system that fosters intrastate commerce without far-reaching federal oversight. This is similar to the provision in Amendment 64 that allowed local municipalities in Colorado to opt out of allowing recreational dispensaries from operating in their jurisdiction.
The States Act can set the stage, but right now the industry needs crucial buy in from the mainstream. That’s where economic recovery in a post-COVID comes into play. Based on information from last year, the cannabis industry is responsible for creating at least 211,000 jobs nationwide. If you want to garner or keep the attention of the government and large institutions, it is imperative to keep creating jobs and generating taxes. This is the language that resonates with policy makers and middle America.
The success of marijuana legalization in Colorado is astounding, and it’s a direct result of letting the state decide its own direction. Do we really want the federal government overseeing marijuana policy? Is it even necessary? Perhaps we should take the staggering political division in this country as a sign. Delegate responsibility to the policy makers at the level closest to the people they represent. For now, maybe we can at least agree on that.