Congress Talks Pot with DEA, FDA & NIDA

0
62

This
morning,
on
Jan.
15,
the
House
Subcommittee
on
Health
of
the
Committee
on
Energy
and
Commerce
held
a
hearing
covering
six
different
marijuana-related
pieces
of
legislation
currently
on
Capitol
Hill.

The
hearing,
titled
“Cannabis
Policies
for
the
New
Decade,”
featured
a
panel
of
speakers
who
testified
before
the
House
of
Representatives
committee
about
the
federal
government’s
potential
to
study,
allow,
and
regulate
the
use
of
cannabis.
It
was
the
committee’s
first-ever
hearing
on
cannabis,
despite
it
being
the
oldest
committee
in
Congress.

“After
years
of
working
to
advance
cannabis
reform
in
Congress,
this
critical
hearing
is
an
important
milestone
where
another
major
congressional
committee
focused
time
and
attention
on
our
movement,”
said
Cannabis
Caucus
Co-Chair
Representative
Earl
Blumenauer,
a
Democrat
from
Oregon,
in
a
statement.
“It
was
important
to
hear
a
number
of
senior
members
of
Congress
affirming
the
change
that
is
taking
place
at
the
state
level
and
affirming
the
contradictions
that
are
created
by
the
federal
government
being
out
of
step
and
out
of
touch.
It’s
past
time
for
Congress
to
catch
up
with
the
American
people.”

The
panel
included
Matthew
J.
Strait,
senior
policy
advisor
in
the
Drug
Enforcement
Administration’s
Diversion
Control
Division,
which
is
focused
on
preventing,
detecting
and
investigating
the
diversion
of
controlled
pharmaceuticals.
It
also
included
Dr.
Douglas
Throckmorton,
deputy
director
for
regulatory
programs
at
the
Food
and
Drug
Administration’s
Center
for
Drug
Evaluation
and
Research,
and
the
National
Institute
on
Drug
Abuse
Director
Nora
D.
Volkow,
who
will
be
a
familiar
face
for
those
who
have
watched
past
congressional
hearings
on
cannabis.
  

The
bills
covered
by
the
Jan.
15
committee
meeting
included:

H.R.
171,
the
Legitimate
Use
of
Medicinal
Marihuana
Act

H.R.
601,
the
Medical
Cannabis
Research
Act
of
2019

H.R.
1151,
the
Veterans
Medical
Marijuana
Safe
Harbor
Act

H.R.
2843,
the “Marijuana
Freedom
and
Opportunity
Act”

H.R.
3797,
the
Medical
Marijuana
Research
Act
of
2019

H.R.
3884,
the
Marijuana
Opportunity
Reinvestment
and
Expungement
Act
of
2019

or
the
“MORE
Act
of
2019”

Advocates
from
all
aspects
of
the
cannabis
industry
had
been
keeping
an
eye
on
the
calendar
for
the
hearing,
which
ended
up
lasting
over
three
hours.
However,
many
of
them
were
disappointed
with
what
they
heard.

“At
a
time
when
nearly
70
percent
of
all
Americans
want
to
end
our
failed
federal
policy
of
blanket
cannabis
criminalization,
it
is
unfortunate
to
see
so
many
participants
at
this
hearing
advocating
largely
for
business
as
usual,”
said
NORML
Executive
Director
Erik
Altieri.

Altieri
pointed
out
that
most
Americans
now
have
to
access
legal
cannabis,
so
they
should
now
be
reasonably
questioning
why
federal
regulators
continued
to
use
dated
talking
points.

“The
fact
of
the
matter
is
that
legalization
and
regulation
work,”
Altieri
said.
“Eleven
states
regulate
the
adult
use
of
marijuana
and
33
states
provide
for
medical
cannabis
access.
The
time
for
federal
policy
to
reflect
this
political
and
cultural
reality
is
now,
Congress
should
promptly approve
the
MORE
Act
 and
put
the
failed
legacy
of
marijuana
criminalization
behind
us.”

We
asked
Altieri
what
it
felt
like
to
watch
the
three
federal
agencies
that
currently
play
a
big
role
in
the
cannabis
research
bottleneck
talk
about
the
need
for
more
research.

“It
was
borderline
painful
to
watch
a
multi-hour
hearing
where
the
very
people
in
control
of
greenlighting
further
marijuana
research
bemoaned
the
lack
of
marijuana
research,”
Altieri
replied.
“Not
only
is
there
generally
not
a
lack
of
research
available,
with
around
32,000
peer-reviewed
studies
available
on
PubMed,
but
if
the
witnesses
testifying
truly
wanted
more
information
they
could
begin
opening
the
doors
to
further
study
tomorrow.”

Prior
to
the
hearing,
the
National
Cannabis
Roundtable,
Global
Alliance
for
Cannabis
Commerce,
Cannabis
Trade
Federation,
Minority
Cannabis
Business
Association
and
National
Cannabis
Industry
Association
sent
the committee
a
letter.

The
letter
outlined
a
series
of
policies
the
groups
are
in
favor
of,
including
federal
oversight,
the
descheduling
of
cannabis,
the
removal
of
barriers
to
cannabis
research,
limiting
minor
access
to
cannabis,
social
equity
in
the
cannabis
industry,
and
more.

MCBA’s
Policy
Committee
Chair,
Khurshid
Khoja,
further
explained
why
today’s
hearing
was
so
important.

“MCBA
members
represent
small
businesses
from
those
communities
most
disenfranchised
by
discriminatory
enforcement
of
past
state
laws
prohibiting
cannabis,”
Khoja
said.
“MCBA’s
proposed
model
policies
and
laws
have
served
as
frameworks
for
effective
implementation
of
social
equity
at
the
state
and
local
level,
and
we
invite
members
of
Congress
to
evaluate
these
proposals
in
tandem
with
efforts
to
deschedule
cannabis.”


A
Few
Positive
Moments
from
the
Hearing

Yes,
the
hearing
certainly
featured
three
federal
agencies
parroting
the
talking
points
they’ve
been
using
for
years
around
the
research
they’re
holding
up,
but
some
members
of
the
committee
had
their
moments.

The formerly
anti-pot
 Congressman
Joe
Kennedy
setup
this
fascinating
line
of
questioning
around
descheduling.
First,
he
asked
Volklow
if
descheduling
marijuana
would
make
it
easier
to
research.
She
tried
to
talk
in
circles,
but
he
kept
questioning
her
until
she
relented
and
admitted
moving
cannabis
to
Schedule
II
would
in
fact
make
it
easier
to
research.
Generally,
it
was
a
surprising
day
from
a
guy
whose family
has
funded
 the
national
effort
to
keep
marijuana
criminalized.

Also,
Congressman
Tim
Griffin
from
Virginia
asked
Strait,
the
DEA
representative,
about
the
absolute
mess
that
is
their licensing
process
to
authorize
cultivators
of
research-grade
marijuana
.

“Will
the
DEA
move
expeditiously
on
getting
people
permits?”
Griffin
asked.

Strait
claimed
the
agency
has
been
working
expeditiously,
it
just
didn’t
seem
like
it
to
the
committee.
He
also
noted
the
people
who
applied
in
2017
got
refunded
their
money
if
they
applied
again
in
2019.

Finally,
Rep.
Debbie
Dingell
of
Michigan
had
one
of
the
funnier
takes.

“I
was
the
keynote
speaker
at
Hash
Bash
this
past
year.
Yes,
you
should
laugh.
My
staff
told
me
I
couldn’t,”
she
told
the
panel
of
feds
admitting
she
didn’t
know
how
it
got
scheduled.
But
she
said
she
learned
a
lot
from
scientists
she
ran
into.

She
went
on
to
explain
the
reason
why
she
and
her
colleagues
kept
asking
the
same
questions
about
why
we
can’t
have
more
cannabis
research,
if
everyone
is
saying
we
need
more
cannabis
research:
“Because
we
don’t
understand
what
the
answers
are.”

Dingell
added,
“Every
one
of
us
has
a
story
from
our
district
that
somehow
someway
there
is
a
problem
and
we’re
in
the
biggest
catch-22
that
you
can
ever
see
or
imagine.
So
you’ve
gotta
help
us
figure
out
how
we’re
going
to
get
out
of
this.”


TELL
US,
 why
do
you
think
the
federal
government
hasn’t
made
pot
legal
yet?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

4 + eighteen =