Tags Posts tagged with "Controlled Substances Act"

Controlled Substances Act

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The most recent proposal for marijuana before Congress would place the drug as a Schedule III substance, a classification shared by Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and dronabinol. Two Florida congressmen, Republican Representative Matt Gaetz and Democratic Representative Darren Soto, introduced legislation that would transfer marijuana to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act from its current standing as a Schedule I substance, the strictest of the classifications.

Having marijuana on a lower scale would uphold the rights of states that have legalized the the use of it medically, allow for banking activities, and create a clearer path for research, Gaetz stated, “I have supported cannabis reform as a state legislator, and I want to see the people that I fought for in my state have access to a legal, high-quality product that’s been well-researched.”

When Gaetz was a state legislator in 2014 and 2015, he backed legislation to legalize “non-euphoric” marijuana for medical use and a proposal to allow terminally ill patients to access full-strength, non-smokeable cannabis. Both were signed into law. Prior to those efforts, Gaetz stood in opposition to medical marijuana proposals. What changed, he said, was watching Doctor Sanjay Gupta’s CNN special report, “Weed,” which chronicled the stories of medical marijuana patients and the challenges of medical research.

After watching the series, Gaetz said he thought that “somebody should do something about that.” He stated, “Until, I realized I could do that.” If successful, the yet-to-be-named House Bill 2020 would not affect recreational marijuana businesses in operation. Gaetz said The legislation is aimed at bolstering research and creating an economic boost by allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to bank openly. He said, “It’s a modest step forward to try to find the most possible common ground. I’ve seen that work.”

Marijuana’s Schedule I status has resulted in limitations for research. Federally approved studies have to utilize a marijuana study drug grown by University of Mississippi, the only federally approved cultivator. Researchers have long argued that the study the does not accurately represent the potency and strains available to consumers in dispensaries. In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it would allow privately operated cultivators to apply to grow marijuana for research, and several companies have started the application process.

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A Republican representative from Virginia introduced a bill recently that would end the federal restriction on cannabis use and permit states to fully set their own course on cannabis policy. The measure aims to remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act and resolve the existing problem between state and federal laws over recreational or medical use of the substance. It would not legalize the sale and use of cannabis in all 50 states. It would permit states to make their own decisions on cannabis policy without the threat of federal interference.

Representative Thomas Garrett, R stated, “Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.” Currently neither the medical or recreational uses of cannabis are allowed in Virginia. The proposal specifies that transporting cannabis into states where it is illegal would continue to be a federal crime. Cannabis is presently a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, meaning the federal government considers the drug to have a “high potential for abuse” and “no medically accepted use.” However, more than half the states have set their own policies permitting either recreational or medical use of cannabis.

Garrett’s proposal is similar to legislation introduced in 2015 by Senator Bernie Sanders. That measure didn’t receive any co-sponsors, nor did it get a Senate hearing. Representative Tulsi Gabbard has already signed on to Garrett’s bill, as have Representative Scott W. Taylor and Representative Jared Polis. Conservatives and law enforcement groups have commonly been among the biggest skeptics of easing cannabis laws. As a Republican and a former prosecutor, Garrett might seem like unlikely for cannabis reform.

The legislator frames the issue as both about states’ rights, and creating jobs. He recently said, “This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia.” One group that provides information services to the cannabis industry estimates that the legal marijuana industry could be worth $24 billion by 2020 and create 280,000 jobs. In Colorado alone, cannabis sales surpassed $1.3 billion last year.

In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration reviewed the federal classification of cannabis and chose not to ease restraint on the substance. Congress has shown increasing interest in attacking cannabis policy issues in recent years, to the extent that there is now an official Congressional Cannabis Caucus. However, the most important piece of cannabis legislation coming out of Congress in recent years was a budget rider prohibiting the Department of Justice from interfering with state-level marijuana laws.

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The battle between the DEA and the Hemp Industries Association was brought back to life after the change last week. Marijuana advocates believe that since hemp isn’t called out under the Controlled Substance Act, it’s legal. The HIA stated, “Cannabidiol is not listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances.” The DEA believes it is since it comes from the same plant.

Executive Director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, Mark Malone states, “This is a huge step backwards for cannabis prohibition and especially for patients who live in states without established medical cannabis laws.”

Manufacturers of CBD products are battling back. Dr. Titus said, “The ninth circuit court of appeals has conclusively held that hemp products such as those marketed by the company [Medical Marijuana] which are derived from the part of the cannabis plant, which is exempt from the controlled substances act is legal for import from Europe.” Dr. Titus believes the products are legal.

Courts ruled that hemp was not a schedule one drug and that the DEA had no right to control it. It also said that hemp was legal to import and sell in the United States. The DEA said it came up with the new internal drug code for extracts of cannabis as a more accurate way to track scientific research on it. Baer stated, “Creating an internal record keeping system allows us to distinguish the extracts from other parts of the cannabis plant and ultimately makes our work more efficient.”

The CBD producers believe the DEA is overstepping the line. New laws cannot be created by the DEA, they can only crack down on laws that already exist created by Congress. Consequently, by making an administrative change they can then include a product that hadn’t been incorporated before.

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The DEA agents are the perfectionists among law enforcement. They aren’t quite FBI material, but still strides above police spending their days issuing routine parking tickets in small cities. The DEA has a job to do regarding implementing federal cannabis laws, however, they allegedly lie about the harm, or lack of, posed by the drug (according to a woman cops believe is spreading misinformation).

Angela Bacca of Illegally Healed brought details from a speech given by Belita Nelson at a Denver conference. A former debate teacher from a high school in Plano, TX, Belita Nelson, says she worked for the DEA from 1998 until 2004. Nelson appeared on talk shows as the agency’s willing “chief propagandist,” she stated.

“Marijuana is safe, we know it is safe.” Nelson remembered her “DEA education coordinator, Paul Villaescusa,” telling her that, according to Illegally Healed. However, “It’s our cash cow and we will never give up.”

Nelson’s loyalty was put to the test when her friend, a former football player, developed cancer. He went from 340 pounds to 140 pounds and could not sleep or eat. Nelson went out on a limb and went to ask her teenage son for marijuana. Nelson saw that the marijuana helping her friend and became an immediate aadvocate. She even began “growing the cannabis herself so that she knew it was safe,” according to Illegally Herald. Nelson resigned from the agency in 2004 during an investigation into a heroin epidemic.

Heroin addicts were finding it easier to come off the drug by using marijuana—and rather than compromise, the agency maintained its beliefs. So Nelson quit. She also turned down the DEA’s offer of a hefty payout in order to stay quiet about what she saw, she stated.

“You know this is safe and you are keeping it from people who are sick!” she told her supervisors. They offered her “$20,000 a month” to keep quiet, she stated. “I am not taking your money, and you better worry about what I am going to say!”

The DEA doesn’t appear to worry too much.

Currently Nelson works as a marijuana advocate. The DEA appears neither to be suppressing her or budging from their “cannabis is bad” stance. Due to lack of research, the DEA rejected a petition to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

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Health officials in Washington, D.C. are urging the city to legalize the distribution of cannabis despite what Congress says. The nation’s capital city ought to “impose state taxes on production, distribution, and sales along with a licensed market participation, age restriction, and prohibitions on advertising and marketing to minors,” according to a recent report from the District of Columbia Department of Health. It also pushes for decision-makers to “use current regulatory models for tobacco and alcohol to base legislation to enact effective marijuana controls.”

D.C.’s mayor as well as the members of the District Council state that they would like to implement marijuana sales, however, federal budget riders enacted not too long ago have stopped them from spending they city’s own money to actually allow it. During the month of April, during consideration of an appropriations bill covering Fiscal Year 2017, House Republicans took steps to push the ban further to stop D.C. officials from being able to circumvent the existing rider using funds that are not touched by the current block. Under this law, the city is not allowed to use money to regulate and legalize sales:

“None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinol derivative for recreational purposes.”

“We hope the D.C. government will move forward now, using reserve funds, to put in place a system of taxation and regulation of cannabis before the Congressional budget is signed into law,” said Nikolas Schiller, co-founder and director of communications for DCMJ, the group that spearheaded the city’s 2014 marijuana ballot initiative. “The people of the District of Columbia deserve the right to purchase taxed and regulated cannabis from licensed stores without Congress interfering.”

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Although the federal government is reluctant to publicly announce that marijuana has any clear medical benefit, it has not stopped federal health agencies from supporting manufactured adaptations of the herb’s psychoactive part to be utilized by Big Pharma as a part of the treatment of debilitating conditions. Truth be told, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one of the essential obstructions in the fantastic plan of across the country sanctioning, as of late endorsed a fluid assortment of manufactured tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that will be sold to individuals experiencing AIDS and cancer.

It was uncovered not long ago that Insys Therapeutics is preparing to pursue a bit of the restorative weed market, one purportedly worth countless dollars, with another FDA-affirmed type of dronabinol. This first-of-a-kind fluid THC engineered, set to be loaded on drug store racks under the name Syndros, has been given the green light for the treatment of “anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS, and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments.”

Although dronabinol, which is commonly referred to under its brand name Marinol, is nothing new to the pharmaceutical industry’s clever approach to capitalizing on marijuana; the latest version is an “easy-to-swallow” liquid designed for quicker absorption than its pill counterpart. A press release issued by Insys indicates that the drug company plans to convert the majority of its dronabinol business over to Syndros by meeting with nearly 8,000 physicians to discuss the benefits of the updated product.

Of course, this laboratory creation has the advantage over the cannabis products being sold in conjunction with state medical marijuana programs because it comes with a Schedule III classification under the Controlled Substances Act—suggesting both medicinal value and a low risk for abuse. The cannabis plant, however, is still ranked with heroin under Schedule I—a classification that deems the herb as having no medical value and a high risk for abuse.

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Marijuana legalization in the United States has spread rapidly over the last few years, with half of the states having now legalized marijuana in some form. The Democratic Party platform committee recently voted to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act, removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs. But policymakers have failed to address an important area: the industry’s energy and climate impacts.

Indoor marijuana cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the United States, generating approximately $6 billion in energy costs annually. Indoor cultivation requires vast amounts of electricity to be able to power intensified lights, air exchanges, ventilation, and to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity levels. Electricity use in Denver is rising by 1.2 percent yearly, and marijuana farms account for almost half of the increase. Colorado has set a goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Currently, only 18 percent of its electricity comes from renewable resources.

When states legalize marijuana cultivation, they set detailed regulations and licensing schemes governing who is entitled to do what, where they may do so, and how much they must pay to do so. Policymakers should also move to enact rules governing the industry’s climate and energy effects. Since indoor growers consume such enormous amounts of electricity, policymakers should require cultivators to consume only carbon-free energy sources, or to pay a carbon fee until such measures can be implemented. Growers must offset their energy use by utilizing renewable energy, purchasing renewable energy credits or paying a carbon fee. Oregon has set a task force for studying energy and water use for marijuana production, recommending energy practices for growers.

States that are not capable of enough renewable energy generation to meet the industry’s electricity demands, such as Colorado, should consider this two-step approach. First, they should require indoor growers to pay carbon fees based consistently with the amount of energy consumed, and then, legislators should require an exponential increase in the percentage of energy consumed from renewable energy sources by indoor growers. Marijuana production is a lucrative industry that can afford to manage its environmental footprint.

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Terminally ill patients will soon have to cut through less red tape to get permission from the federal government to use experimental medications, including cannabis, in some states, to ease the suffering in the final days of their life. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a new compassionate use policy intended to make it easier for physicians to submit the necessary paperwork to gain access to experimental drugs for patients inflicted with serious or immediately life-threatening conditions for which there are no other treatments available. Instead of forcing doctors to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, one that has often been considered a “Laborious process,” the updated application now consists of 11 patient-specific questions that the health agency says should only take doctors around 45 minutes to complete.

This policy update comes amid concerns that many physicians have been simply bypassing the compassionate use option because it is too much of time-consuming hassle. The FDA says the changes were made in an effort to make more experimental medications available to those patients grasping at straws trying to stay alive. There are currently 28 states with “Right to Try” laws, which are designed to provide terminally ill citizens with access to alternative treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA. One of the latest additions to a cult cluster of compassion states is Florida, where Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law earlier this year that gives patients with less than a year to live the freedom to use medical marijuana.

A report from NPR indicates even with the FDA’s new, simpler policy; patients may still be hard-pressed to get their hands on experimental medications because of other obstacles that physicians must overcome before many drug manufacturers fill the order. It seems that before a doctor can even consider petitioning for FDA-approval, he or she must first obtain a “Letter of Authorization” from the pharmaceutical company giving the patient consent to use the drug. This can sometimes be a difficult, time-consuming process of its own because a lot of these companies refuse to dispense medications before the FDA signs off on them for fear that they will be hit with a vicious lawsuit if something goes terribly wrong.

Although medical marijuana – among the safest alternative treatments in the world – qualifies for the federal government’s compassionate use program in states that have legalized the herb as part of its Right to Try law, terminally ill patients living in states like Indiana, which does not even have a modest medical marijuana program in place, will have a difficult time using the law to gain access to cannabis because it only certifies the use of experimental, non-FDA-approved medications that are currently involved in at least the initial phase of clinical trails.

Since marijuana is listed a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, a classification that suggests the plant does not have any known medicinal value, there are not many pharmaceutical companies out there knowingly experimenting with the development of cannabis-based drugs. There is one drugmaker, GW Pharmaceuticals, which is currently involved in clinical trials in the United States for a couple of cannabis-base medications that doctors may be able to reach out to for patients seeking cannabis as an end of life treatment. This may be the only legal option for terminally ill patients living in Right to Try states without access to medical marijuana.

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The House of Representatives is dominated by the Republican Party. That’s why it is no surprise that the House is working to limit Washington, D.C.’s capability to legalize, manage, and tax cannabis. Having ownership and growing a small amount of marijuana is legal in D.C. after ballot initiatives were voted for by Congress. However, thanks to a member related to Congress, the city is not allowed to spend its own cash to create a cannabis industry, even for adults that have received recommendations for medical marijuana from doctors.
At the moment, Republicans in Congress are looking to generalize the range of the ban to stop D.C. officials from using some type of loophole to get around this by using funds. Under the law, D.C. officials cannot use money that is set to help the cannabis industry. Here is where it says that in the report”
“None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.”
The exact syntax is a bit ambiguous and still allows for officials to use other cash it has laying around. In fact, officials said in 2015 in an interview that they were considering this. However, because of a new bill, the city would not be able to do such a thing. Here it is:
“No funds available for obligation or expenditure by any officer or employee of the District of Columbia government may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.”

 

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