- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On February 21, 2017
- breaking, cannabis, cannabis law, CBD, federal government, reschedule cannabis, rescheduling of marijuana, war on drugs
H.R. 715, also known as the “Compassionate Access Act” was introduced to the House of Representatives, by Rep. Griffith Morgan [R VA-9], on January 27, 2017. If the Compassionate Access Act passes, the bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, alongside the Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, to officially recommend for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I, and seeks to decriminalize cannabidiol (CBD) by excluding it from the definition of “marihuana.”
Cannabis is presently classified as a Schedule I drug, the ranking reserved for the most dangerous narcotics, and those deemed to have no medical value. As a Schedule I drug, Cannabis carries the harshest federal penalties and faces hurdles to critical research, while cocaine and methamphetamine rank one level lower, in the Schedule II classification.
Makes you wonder how we got here?
Fast-forward through United States’ Cannabis history:
- 1600-1800 every farmer was required to grow Hemp;
- 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act required labeling of Cannabis products in over-the-counter remedies;
- 1937 Marijuana Tax Act taxed Cannabis;
- Jump ahead to 1970, when Congress passed Nixon’s Controlled Substance Act. The act established the Schedules by which drugs would be classified. However, there was some confusion as to where Cannabis should land. The initial classification of Cannabis was supposed to be a temporary placement while President Nixon’s National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse studied the plant’s medicinal value. Although the Commission recommended that Cannabis prohibition end, Nixon ignored the advice of his appointed Commission and four decades later we are still stuck in a vortex of confusion due to the counter-scientific classification, which continues to feed negative associations with medical Cannabis, overshadowing its profound medical benefits.
People commonly associate cannabis with reducing pain, countering nausea and increasing the appetites of cancer patients. This just scratches the surface of the untapped potential of medical Cannabis. Medical Cannabis is currently helping veterans suffering from PTSD; stabilizing children suffering from debilitating seizures; regenerating professional football players’ brain cells; and treating opioid addiction. Sounds like the opposite of everything we have been told and this is just a smattering of the current medical uses of Cannabis.
CBD – Cannabidiol
In December 2016, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrations announced, via the Federal Register, that cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is also classified as Schedule I drug. CBD has less than 1% THC and is non-psychoactive, making it an option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions, without any other effects.
This recent rule of course makes CBD illegal: “Extracts of marihuana will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances,” the notice says. While America tossed CBD oil in with Heroin, on February 13, 2017, Britain reclassified CBD oil as medicine, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency stated: “We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine.”
H.R. 715, aims to decriminalize cannabidiol (CBD) by excluding it from the definition of “marihuana.” Rest assured that there are some temporary safeguards in place that protect patients in many states from federal prosecution over possession of CBD oil. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibits the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. This means that the amendment prevents federal law enforcement officials from prosecuting patients for possessing CBD products in the 28 legal medical cannabis states, and the District of Columbia.
On February 13, 2017, the DEA also removed factually inaccurate information about Cannabis from its website, including “claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, caused irreversible cognitive decline in adults, and contributed to psychosis and lung cancer.” Safe Access Now. The removal of such antiquated myths, came at a critical time, treading on the heels of the newly-confirmed Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. As an unwavering medical Cannabis opponent, Sessions relies on the DEA’s publications and opinions about Cannabis to justify his opposition to medical Cannabis policy reform. Removing damaging inaccuracies and nonfactual information that violates the Information Quality Act, chips away at Sessions’ foundation for the continued battle against medical Cannabis.
Love or hate Trump, one thing for certain is that this Presidency is anything but predictable. Advocates for re-scheduling Cannabis and decriminalizing CBD will march forward and with a little luck, politics may fall in line.
Contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.