2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide

With support for marijuana legalization stronger than ever before, the issue of cannabis reform is slated to become a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump, seeking a second term as President of the United States, is expected to earn the Republican party’s nomination. Trump has yet to take any notable actions related to marijuana, neither positive or negative, since taking office.

On the Democrat side, an abundance of declared primary candidates will battle in the primaries for their party’s nomination. Among Democratic voters, marijuana legalization has become a mainstream stance and politicians vying for their support have responded. So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate has come out in support of either completely legalizing marijuana at the federal level, or descheduling it and leaving it up to the states.

Make informed choices by reviewing each candidate’s stance on marijuana legalization. Through the interactive tools below, you can quickly and easily sift through each candidate’s position on cannabis reform and any comments they’ve made about the issue. Click around the interactive graphic below to review each 2020 presidential candidate’s legislative support, public statements, and even tweets related to cannabis. Through the interactive timeline, you can click-and-drag and pinch-in and pinch-out zoom to discover when each candidate first made a pro-marijuana statement, first backed cannabis reform legislation, and any time there was a major development in their cannabis stance. Want to cut to the chase? A cannabis “temperature gauge” offers a quick-glance view of how strongly each candidate champions marijuana.

From now until the 2020 presidential election, this article will serve as home base for 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on federal marijuana policy. It will be regularly updated to reflect changes as presidential hopefuls enter and drop out of the race, as well as to document any shifts or major updates in cannabis views.

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Helping Underscore a Longstanding Tenet of SMPL – Cannabis Policy is a Public Health Issue Rather than a Criminal Justice One

It’s time for drug policy reform – in America and across the globe

America’s “war on drugs” has failed. We need more policies that treat drug abuse as a public health issue

Earlier this month, a Philadelphia judge rejected federal objections to the opening of what will be the nation’s first legal overdose prevention site—paving the way for other jurisdictions to bring this lifesaving tool to their communities. Overdose prevention sites are facilities where people can use drugs under medical supervision by staff who can immediately address and reverse any overdoses that occur. While the U.S. Department of Justice has claimed that these sites are illegal under federal drug laws, the opinion concludes that a public health response — and operating a facility such as this —  is not in contravention of federal law. This is a landmark ruling in the U.S., but not internationally where 118 safe consumption sites operate in 12 countries, with plans to also open them in Mexico and Ireland. It’s well past time for cities across the U.S. to follow suit and embrace harm reduction practices, not simply in regard to this issue, but also more generally in the criminal justice arena.

Nearly 50 years after the United States declared a “war on drugs” there is ample evidence today that a criminal justice and punitive response to drug use has failed. Meanwhile, countries like Portugal and Switzerland have embraced public health approaches to reducing the harms associated with drug use for decades, with proven success. Switzerland was the first country to open an overdose prevention site over 30 years ago, saving countless lives and without recording a single fatal overdose. Indeed, since the 1990s, the number of opioid-related deaths has fallen by more than 60%.  Portugal decriminalized the personal use of all drugs in 2001, and since then, overdose deaths have decreased by more than 80%. As a group of U.S. prosecutors learned during a recent trip to Portugal, decriminalization worked in large part because it helped reduce the stigma of drug use and replaced a justice system response with a public health starting point.

It is time for all nations to follow this lead and embrace a new global vision for drug policy based on principles of harm reduction and respect of fundamental human rights, including the right to health care. Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that posits governments can more effectively and humanely address substance use by aiming efforts at reducing the negative consequences of drug use. These strategies include needle exchanges and overdose prevention sites, where people can use drugs under the supervision of individuals trained to reverse overdoses.

Some elected prosecutors are already leading this charge and implementing reforms that recognize the ineffectiveness of criminalizing drug use and the need for a paradigm shift. Seattle District Attorney Dan Satterberg has stopped charging virtually all personal possession cases of small amounts of drugs; San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is wiping out over 9.000 past marijuana convictions; Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby recently decriminalized marijuana possession and is similarly working to expunge past marijuana convictions; and Chittenden County, Vermont State’s Attorney Sarah George has stopped prosecuting possession of the opioid treatment buprenorphine and has called for the opening of a supervised consumption site.

Before more lives are lost to jails or overdose deaths, leaders should follow the example of these pioneers and other countries around the world. Criminalizing and incarcerating people for drug-related offenses not only hasn’t worked but has led to additional harms to communities: an explosion in incarceration that fractured families and disparately impacted communities of color, the spread of infectious diseases and thousands of drug-related overdoses. We know now that most people who use drugs do not develop a substance use disorder, but for those who do, treatment is far more effective than jail. Harsh approaches don’t reduce drug supply or use. They simply drive people who use drugs into the margins of society. Further, overly punitive strategies that focus on prohibition are enormously expensive and take vital resources away from efforts that reduce overdoses and limit the spread of diseases. Criminalizing people who use drugs doesn’t just fail to make people safer and healthier, it makes them sicker and more likely to overdose in the shadows.

This shift from punishment to harm reduction requires a fundamental change in attitudes around drug use and the nature of addiction. From criminalizing people who sell drugs to fund their addiction, to jailing people who relapse during court-mandated treatment, the idea of drug use as a moral failing is deeply embedded in too many of our justice system policies. True change will require us to end our counterproductive use of criminal penalties for people who use drugs, stop demonizing them, and instead treat them as individuals deserving of compassion and care.

Global leaders, researchers and health care providers have already done the critical work of showing that harm reduction combined with the decriminalization of drug use and possession works in communities around the world.  If the U.S. seeks to joins other countries that have successfully implemented harm reduction strategies, its justice system must do its part to catch up and stop inflicting further harms. It’s time for leaders at all levels of government to affirm – through both words and action – that people who use drugs deserve dignity and respect, not isolation, jailing and death.

Read the whole article at salon.com


Thankfully, Private Prisons are on the Decline and Louisiana has None

Private prisons in the United States incarcerated 121,718 people in 2017, representing 8.2% of the total state and federal prison population. Since 2000, the number of people housed in private prisons has increased 39%.

However, the private prison population reached its peak in 2012 with 137,220 people. Declines in private prisons’ use make these latest overall population numbers the lowest since 2006 when the population was 113,791.

States show significant variation in their use of private correctional facilities. Indeed, the New Mexico Department of Corrections reports that 53% of its prison population is housed in private facilities, while 22 states do not employ any for-profit prisons. Data compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and interviews with corrections officials find that in 2017, 28 states and the federal government incarcerated people in private facilities run by corporations including GEO Group, Core Civic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), and Management and Training Corporation.

Eighteen states with private prison contracts incarcerate more than 500 people in for-profit prisons. Texas, the first state to adopt private prisons in 1985, incarcerated the largest number of people under state jurisdiction, 12,728.

Since 2000, the number of people in private prisons has increased 39.3%, compared to an overall rise in the prison population of 7.8%. In six states the private prison population has more than doubled during this time period: Arizona (479%), Indiana (310%), Ohio (277%), Florida (199%), Tennessee (117%), and Georgia (110%).

The Federal Bureau of Prisons maintains the nation’s highest number of people managed by private prison contractors. Since 2000, its use increased 77%, and the number of people in private federal custody — which includes prisons, half-way houses and home confinement — totaled 27,569 in 2017. While a significant historical increase, the population declined 15% since 2016, likely reflecting the continuing decline of the overall federal prison population.

Among the immigrant detention population, 26,249 people – 73% of the detained population – were confined in privately run facilities in 2017. The privately detained immigrant population grew 442% since 2002.

Political influences have been instrumental in determining the growth of for-profit private prisons and continue today. However, if overall prison populations continue the current trend of modest declines, the privatization debate will likely intensify as opportunities for the prison industry dry up and corrections companies seek profit in other areas of criminal justice services and immigration detention.

Read the full article here


Is Colorado Prepared to Divorce from the Dysfunctional Private Prison Relationship?

Colorado lawmakers for the first time are preparing to map out a possible divorce from the private prison industry, and a long-shuttered maximum-security prison could be part of the solution.

A committee tasked with managing the state’s prison population has been workshopping a proposal that calls upon the Colorado Department of Corrections “to study how to end the practice of using private prisons by 2025 in a responsible way.”

The proposed bill also calls for Colorado to begin housing inmates at the remodeled Centennial South as a way to reduce the number of private beds used. The Cañon City prison opened in 2010 to house prisoners in solitary confinement but closed two years later as the state phased out the practice.

The draft bill says that for every prisoner housed at Centennial South, another must be moved out of a private facility until Centennial South is full.

Three of the department’s 25 prisons are privately owned. GEO Group, the world’s largest private prison company, owns one in Colorado Springs, and CoreCivic, the second-biggest player in the industry, owns prisons in Las Animas and Olney Springs. Together, these facilities hold nearly 4,000 of the roughly 20,000 people in DOC custody, according to the department’s September report.

The bill comes as public outrage against the private prison industry has swelled, leading Denver leaders to end contracts with companies running halfway houses and California leaders to pass a law barring the use of private facilities.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat who chairs the committee on prison population management, said she assumes she would carry the potential bill in the House.

“We have to ensure that (prisoners) are set up to succeed and that there’s not profiteering that’s happening on the backs of our criminal justice system,” Herod said.

But ending the state’s use of private prisons wouldn’t be simple, said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Even if the state uses all the beds available at Centennial South, she said, it would still have to find space for more than 2,000 other inmates or significantly reduce the overall prison population to make a switch feasible.

The cost of such a change is still unknown and will be a crucial factor in any decisions, she said. Generally, private facilities are able to operate at a lower cost per inmate.

“The bottom line is going to be what that fiscal note says,” Donner said.

Because of those unknowns, DOC Director Dean Williams declined to take a stance on the proposed bill. He said he “philosophically” opposes the private prison industry but that the size of the population he manages puts him “in a difficult situation.”

“I’m concerned about any part of the prison or correctional system where there’s a profit incentive,” he said. “At the same time, I realize that we rely upon three private prisons to provide bed space — beds that we need.”

For the rural communities where CoreCivic’s prisons are located, the loss of the facilities would be devastating for their tax base and the hundreds of prison employees, said Blaine Arbuthnot, Crowley County commissioner. The leaders of Crowley and Bent counties met with Herod last week to discuss their concerns.

“Literally the private prison here pays half our property tax,” Arbuthnot said. “It would be devastating to lose that, not only for our county but for our school district.”

CoreCivic leaders are aware of the possible legislation, company spokesman Brandon Bissell said in a statement. Bissell said the company was proud of its track record in Colorado. Representatives from GEO Group did not return requests for comment on the proposal.

The private prison industry is deeply entrenched in Colorado. The bulk of its business is in community re-entry programs, such as halfway houses and treatment centers. Twenty of Colorado’s 25 biggest cities have at least one facility operated by either GEO or CoreCivic.

The draft bill does not call for the elimination of these re-entry contracts and instead focuses exclusively on the state’s three private DOC prisons. It would not affect the Aurora ICE detention center owned and operated by GEO.

Following direction from state lawmakers early this year, the DOC has been working on a roughly $1 million retrofit of Centennial South. This project included new common dining areas, new outdoor basketball courts, infrastructure improvements and some modifications to some of the 948 cells in the prison.

As it stands, the DOC is only authorized to keep prisoners at Centennial South, also known as CSPII, in the event of severe overcrowding throughout the system. But concerns about population overflow have subsided, and it now appears unlikely that Colorado will exceed the threshold to trigger the facility’s opening any time soon.

Herod said using the prison instead of private facilities gives the state the option to at least start a private prison phase-out sooner than 2025. A clean divorce from private prisons now or in the near future isn’t feasible, she said.

“We currently are under contract with some of these facilities, and we have offenders housed there,” Herod added. “There’s not alternative places to put them, but for CSPII.”

Herod also said that she thinks a phase-out would “likely include buy-backs,” as in the state purchasing some or all of the three private DOC facilities from GEO and CoreCivic.

On Oct. 30, the committee that drafted the bill will vote on whether to refer it to the legislature next session, which opens in January.

Read the full article by : https://www.denverpost.com/2019/10/19/colorado-private-prisons-geo-corecivic/


Bernie Sanders unveils plan to legalize marijuana, invest tax revenue in minority businesses

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders released a comprehensive plan late Thursday afternoon to legalize marijuana, begin a process to expunge old pot-related convictions and take steps to shape the emerging legal sales industry.

The proposal dropped, winkingly, at precisely 4:20 PM ET.
Sanders, a longtime proponent of marijuana legalization, would also ban tobacco companies from getting into the increasingly lucrative business, while creating a $20 billion grant program — using tax revenue from marijuana sales — to provide new capital to minority entrepreneurs.
Decades of harsh laws and sentencing requirements have “disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
Sanders unveiled the blueprint ahead of his appearance Saturday at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College, an HBCU in South Carolina. The proposal takes a number of specific steps to address the disproportionately destructive impact federal drug policy has had on the African American community. The capital grant program will be would be administered through the Minority Business Development Agency.
As part of the plan, Sanders would create a federal clemency board to deal with past marijuana-related convictions, similar to a panel established in California. That body would instruct state and federal authorities to review all applicable cases to determine if a new or vacated sentence is required. It would also give prosecutors one year to appeal any decision, after which those convictions would be immediately vacated or expunged.
The 2020 Democratic candidates broadly agree on the need to reverse or roll back current drug laws. Decriminalizing possession and reducing sentencing guidelines, at the least, are popular among many of the leading primary contenders. But there is some disagreement over the scope of the reforms being suggested.
Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said they would effectively legalize marijuana by executive action, with Sanders pledging to do it in his first 100 days in office. Their Senate colleague Cory Booker has been a leading reform advocate and his Marijuana Justice Bill counts Sanders, Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Michael Bennet among its co-sponsors.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports decriminalizing the possession of all drugs including marijuana, and said Wednesday during a visit to a marijuana dispensary in Nevada that past marijuana convictions should be expunged. Former Vice President Joe Biden does not back full legalization, saying he would leave that decision to the states. He would downgrade marijuana’s federal classification, to schedule II, which is the same as cocaine.
At Sanders’ rally this past weekend in Queens, the first after he returned to the campaign following a heart attack, he teased a plan to free prisoners convicted of certain drug-related crimes.
“We are going to end the horrifically destructive war on drugs and legalize marijuana,” Sanders said, tying the cause to a broader criminal and racial justice message. “And we are going to end the disgrace of 400,000 people right now locked behind bars because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”
In seeking to prevent major corporations from seizing on wider scale legalization, Sanders plans to incentive marijuana growers and distributors who choose to start non-profit or community co-op businesses that would benefit local economies. Existing companies that sell tobacco and cigarettes, along with those “that have created cancer-causing products or (are) guilty of deceptive marketing” would be locked out of the market, according to the Sanders plan.
At an event in Iowa in September, the Vermont independent promised that he was going to shift the bounty of marijuana sales from big corporations to the people who have been most heavily impacted by current, or only recently reversed, drug laws.
“I go to Nevada, and there are these big billboards, I don’t know if you’ve seen, and it says buy this or that brand of marijuana, have you seen this? They are advertising hemp,” Sanders said. “And I’m thinking that there are people in jail for doing exactly what these large corporations are doing, selling marijuana.”

Louisiana permits hundreds of businesses to sell CBD products

Louisiana has awarded business licenses to 775 companies that want to sell CBD products.

The state’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) received more than 1,000 permit applications after passage of a law outlining how retailers can sell products containing CBD. The ATC started the process in June.

Liquor stores, gas stations and CBD-specific shops were among the first businesses cleared to sell CBD.

Sellers must meet a lengthy list of requirements to receive licenses. The CBD products must carry scannable bar codes, QR codes or other information to verify the product’s certificate of analysis.

Smokable hemp products are banned in Louisiana.

Sales of beverages or food containing CBD are prohibited nationwide until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves cannabinoids as an ingredient for human consumption.

The FDA began its scientific review of cannabis-derived products with a public hearing on May 31.

The agency said it will report on its progress by this fall, though it has made no promises about expanding CBD access.

While the Louisiana law ended uncertainty about whether CBD products can be sold in the state, some have said the regulations are overly burdensome.

View full article here


Study Finds Cannabis Dispensaries Reduce Opioid Deaths by 21%

In a study published this week in the journal Economic Inquiry, researchers found that the legalization of adult-use cannabis reduced opioid overdose deaths by 21%.

The study, carried out by economists at the University of Massachusetts and Colorado State University, found that legalization had “particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids” such as fentanyl.

“Our principal finding is that recreational marijuana access significantly decreases opioid mortality, with the most pronounced effects for synthetic opioids,” the researchers concluded. The effect “stems primarily from access via dispensaries rather than legality per se.”

Confirms Previous Studies

This week’s study backs up previous work on the question. A 2014 JAMA study found that states with medical marijuana laws saw 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdose compared to states without.

Last year two further studies found lower opioid prescription rates in legal states. A University of Kentucky researcher found a 6% lower rate of opioid prescriptions for pain in medical marijuana states, and a 12% lower opioid prescription rate in adult-use states. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Georgia found that Medicare patients in medical marijuana states filled 14% fewer daily doses of opioids than patients in other states.

National Data, State Laws

In the latest study, economists from Massachusetts and Colorado examined mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control (1999 through 2017), and cross-checked that against data on the legal history of cannabis in each state. They then controlled for variables including income, race, ethnicity, sex, age, unemployment rates, and population.

The study’s authors point out that there were 47,600 deaths from opioids in the United States in 2017. A reduction of 21% would imply nearly 10,000 lives potentially saved.

“Our results have direct relevance for policy,” the researchers noted, “as they indicate that recent expansions to marijuana access have significant co-benefits in the form of reduced opioid mortality.”

“States with legal access to marijuana were far less affected by the opioid mortality boom of the past decade than those without,” they added. “Thus, our work provides important food for thought for state and federal authorities that continue to mull medical and/or recreational legalization of marijuana.”

Three Ways Cannabis Can Help

The Economic Inquiry study does not suggest the exact mechanisms by which cannabis helps reduce opioid deaths. But in a 2017 interview with Leafly, Canadian researcher Philippe Lucas laid out three primary avenues for amelioration.

Lucas suggested that pain patients might bypass the use of opioids altogether if physicians recommended trying medical cannabis first, rather than opioids first. If the cannabis provides sufficient relief, opioids would never need to come into the equation.

Second, cannabis may help patients using opioids to use fewer opioids or find more effective relief at lower dosage levels.

Third, cannabis may help those with an opioid dependency transition to replacement therapy with methadone.

The key, said Lucas, is a substitution effect that doesn’t have to be full and complete to be useful. Cannabis can be a therapeutic agent for some patients, and it can also act as a harm reduction agent for those who can’t completely stop their use of opioids. For those patients, cannabis may not be a complete substitute, but it may allow them to lower their opioid dosage and use and thereby stay alive.

read the original by: Bruce Barcott at www.leafly.com


American Bar Association Urges Congress To Let States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies

 

The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a resolution on Monday that calls on Congress to allow states to set their own marijuana policies and recommends rescheduling or descheduling cannabis under federal law.

Members of the ABA House of Delegates approved the measure at the organization’s annual meeting in San Francisco and, according to the ABA Journal, it was broadly supported—passing “without audible opposition”—even after proponents waived their time to speak.

Though ABA specified that it was not taking a position on marijuana legalization generally, it recognized that conflicting federal and state cannabis policies are untenable and have created complications for cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state law. That includes a lack of access to financial services that lead such companies to operate on a largely cash basis, making them targets for crime.

The resolution states that ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to exempt from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) any production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana carried out in compliance with state laws.”

ABA, an association established in 1878 that now touts 411,000 members, also wants Congress to “enact legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act,” which could involve placing it in a less restrictive category or removing it from the list of federally controlled substances altogether.

Finally, the resolution recommends that Congress pass legislation to “encourage scientific research into the efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States.”

A report attached to the measure provides context on state-level legalization efforts, the history of federal prohibition and the “resulting regulatory quagmire.”

“There is an obvious tension between marijuana’s Schedule I status – which prohibits marijuana in virtually all circumstances—and state regulatory reforms—which increasingly authorize marijuana for at least some purposes,” ABA wrote. “While state and federal law often diverge—on everything from environmental to workplace laws—marijuana policy is the only area where the states regulate and tax conduct the federal government nearly universally prohibits.”

The temporary protections that lawmakers have been able to secure for medical cannabis states and guidance memos from the Justice Department are not enough to relieve the regulatory tension produced by federal prohibition, ABA argued. While the House approved a budget rider that would extend protections to adult-use programs, it’s not clear how that will fare in the Senate—and even if it passes, it must be annually renewed, creating uncertainty.

More fundamentally, however, because the spending riders operate only as a restraint on Justice Department action, they have not prevented other parties from using federal law against state-compliant marijuana businesses and users.

ABA listed various problems that these businesses face under the current regulatory framework: a lack of access to banking services, “unusually high federal taxes,” no federal protection for their trademarks and an increased number of private lawsuits.

“No one should be satisfied with the regulatory quagmire that has resulted from the unresolved tension between state reforms and federal law.”

The report goes on to describe how its recommendations would help resolve some of these issues.

Passing legislation such as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would mean “marijuana businesses could obtain banking and legal services, deduct their reasonable business expenses when computing their federal tax liability, obtain federal protection for their trademarks, avoid civil RICO liability, and so on.”

What’s more, Congress could attach provisions to such legislation that would establish a basic federal framework for state cannabis programs by “incentivizing states to adopt and maintain careful controls on marijuana activities,” including age restrictions for adult-use programs.

But creating an exemption for legal cannabis states under the CSA wouldn’t fix all of the problems that federal prohibition is created, which is why ABA also made a scheduling recommendation.

It said that knowledge about marijuana’s risks and benefits has evolved in the years since the drug was placed in Schedule I of the CSA and that it no longer made sense to schedule cannabis in the same category as substances that are decidedly more dangerous. Loosening federal restrictions by rescheduling it could help, but “Congress could even choose to remove marijuana from the CSA altogether, in the same way it exempted alcoholic beverages and tobacco from the statute’s coverage in the first instance,” ABA wrote.

The final part of the resolution discusses the need to support research into cannabis. One area that could be quickly improved is in the sourcing of research-grade marijuana. ABA noted that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in 2016 that it is accepting applications for additional cannabis manufacturers, which could bolster research, for example. Coincidentally, ABA’s resolution on the topic was approved exactly three years after DEA made that announcement, which the agency still has yet to act on.

The measure “urges Congress to actively support scientific research on marijuana,” ABA wrote. “As greater scientific knowledge of the benefits and harms of marijuana develops, Congress and the states can work together to ensure that the benefits of marijuana can be realized while the harms of the drug are properly addressed. Encouraging careful scientific study of marijuana will be beneficial regardless of the direction of marijuana law reform in the future.”

“You can’t do massive blind studies because everyone who does it is afraid they’ll get prosecuted,” Stephen Saltzburg, who moved the resolution, told ABA Journal. “We should have that research. We ought not to have states and [the federal government] flying blind.”

read the original by: at www.marijuanamoment.net


Politics Top FDA Official Slams Federal Drug Scheduling System For Blocking CBD Research

 

The federal drug scheduling system inhibited research into CBD that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now scrambling to conduct following the legalization of hemp and its derivatives, a top agency official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Industrial Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, FDA Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller gave an extensive overview of the agency’s role in regulating cannabis products, repeatedly stressing that FDA is “excited” about cannabidiol’s potential.

That said, Schiller said FDA retains regulatory authority over hemp-derived products and it remains illegal to introduce CBD in the food supply or as dietary supplements unless the agency develops alternative rules, which it is actively exploring. Because CBD exists as an FDA-approved epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, creating a regulatory framework is more complicated.

He also talked about other potential medical benefits of CBD and how the federal ban on hemp and its compounds, which was lifted under a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill that President Donald Trump signed in December, restricted research.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, but we’re excited about the possibility that new therapeutic uses of CBD might be demonstrated to be safe and effective,” Schiller said, according to his remarks as prepared for delivery. “The last thing we want to do is to discourage that research, and potentially stunt our knowledge of potential uses of CBD. So we need to be thoughtful in our approach.”

“One thing we realized very early on in evaluating these questions is that there was still far too much we didn’t know about CBD, and about the implications of putting CBD in foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics,” he said. “This is part of the legacy of almost all CBD being a Schedule I controlled substance until late last year.”

“It was difficult to research, and it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as we would like.”

Schiller said that more studies are needed to determine potential risks associated with consuming large quantities of CBD, interactions with other drugs, using the substance while pregnant and long-term consumption. Resolving those questions will “help to inform our path forward.”

That’s why, he said, FDA is “focusing on a different CBD: Collect Better Data.”

“We want to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to support informed and efficient decision making. If there are data or studies that are relevant to the safety of particular uses of CBD, we want to see them. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we want to understand how big those gaps are and what can be done—by us and by others—to start filling them.”

The federal drug scheduling system inhibited research into CBD that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now scrambling to conduct following the legalization of hemp and its derivatives, a top agency official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Industrial Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, FDA Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller gave an extensive overview of the agency’s role in regulating cannabis products, repeatedly stressing that FDA is “excited” about cannabidiol’s potential.

That said, Schiller said FDA retains regulatory authority over hemp-derived products and it remains illegal to introduce CBD in the food supply or as dietary supplements unless the agency develops alternative rules, which it is actively exploring. Because CBD exists as an FDA-approved epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, creating a regulatory framework is more complicated.

He also talked about other potential medical benefits of CBD and how the federal ban on hemp and its compounds, which was lifted under a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill that President Donald Trump signed in December, restricted research.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, but we’re excited about the possibility that new therapeutic uses of CBD might be demonstrated to be safe and effective,” Schiller said, according to his remarks as prepared for delivery. “The last thing we want to do is to discourage that research, and potentially stunt our knowledge of potential uses of CBD. So we need to be thoughtful in our approach.”

“One thing we realized very early on in evaluating these questions is that there was still far too much we didn’t know about CBD, and about the implications of putting CBD in foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics,” he said. “This is part of the legacy of almost all CBD being a Schedule I controlled substance until late last year.”

“It was difficult to research, and it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as we would like.”

Schiller said that more studies are needed to determine potential risks associated with consuming large quantities of CBD, interactions with other drugs, using the substance while pregnant and long-term consumption. Resolving those questions will “help to inform our path forward.”

That’s why, he said, FDA is “focusing on a different CBD: Collect Better Data.”

“We want to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to support informed and efficient decision making. If there are data or studies that are relevant to the safety of particular uses of CBD, we want to see them. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we want to understand how big those gaps are and what can be done—by us and by others—to start filling them.”

Those gaps in knowledge are partially due to the federal drug scheduling system, which has faced bipartisan criticism for hampering research initiatives. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledged in April that continuing to classify drugs like marijuana as Schedule I makes it “very difficult” to research.

But as FDA works to make up for lost time, it has pledged to engage in a transparent rulemaking process that takes into account what Congress and industry stakeholders have called for—namely a regulatory scheme under which hemp and CBD can be lawfully marketed without excessive interference.

FDA said it is speeding up its process to develop regulations and that it plans to release a report on its progress in the fall.

“In closing, I want to reiterate how excited we are about the potential uses of CBD and other hemp and hemp-derived products,” Schiller said. “The hemp industry has come an incredible distance in an incredibly short period of time. And in some cases, the enthusiasm and the commercial appeal have outpaced the scientific research. The science needs to catch up.”

He also told the hemp crowd that as FDA works on its end, “we need your help.”

“As this industry matures, it needs to start taking on more responsibilities—for the safety of consumers, and for the future development of an industry that can meet the same requirements as apply to other industries we regulate,” he said. “We look forward to working together as this industry continues to mature.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach also spoke at the hemp conference on Tuesday.

read the original by: at www.marijuanamoment.net


Patients line up for medical marijuana in Louisiana as dispensaries open their doors

MADISONVILLE, La. — Medical marijuana dispensaries opened Monday across Louisiana.

The one on the Northshore, in Madisonville, had a steady flow of patients.

There were children with autism, octogenarians with glaucoma, and all ages and medical conditions in between. First in line at the North Shore location was 80-year-old former state senator Tony Guarisco. Back in 1978, he wrote the first law for therapeutic use of marijuana. He was a young man then, in his late thirties.

“Here generations have suffered and not gotten medicine because of the recalcitrance of, of people in power, who never implemented the law that I passed,” he remembers.

Guarisco says his doctor hopes it will help reduce inflammation for his glaucoma.

RELATED: Medical marijuana sold in Louisiana after years in legal limbo

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“Over two generations waiting for today. I never thought I would be … a patient today,” said Guarisco, who was a state senator from 1976-88.

He got his first liquid dose for drops to go under his tongue, as another patient cheered him on.

Just an hour after the Willow Pharmacy opened, there were already two dozen people who had come through.

Scott Rigdon was one of them.

“This is a really great day for Louisianians,” Rigdon said.

He hopes this will help him get off of morphine for epilepsy and chronic orthopedic pain.

“This is very important, even though this is a great day for Louisiana, I do not think that marijuana should be legal, say in a convenience store,” Rigdon said.

The largest group of eye physicians and surgeons in the world does not endorse marijuana for glaucoma. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says there are several safe and reliable treatments already and this is not adequate.

The cost ranges from $99 to $200 depending on the strength, and insurance won’t cover the cost of product or the doctor visit.


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