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FDA Flooded With Comments Urging That Marijuana Be Reclassified

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In the last few days, more tan 1,000 people have submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supporting the rescheduling of marijuana.

The FDA opened the public comment period on Friday to gather input ahead of a United Nations meeting on global drug policy, where the U.S. representative will have the opportunity to cast a vote on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations to reschedule cannabis, THC and CBD under international drug treaties.

So far, the federal agency has been flooded with comments that overwhelmingly endorse a cannabis reclassification. Support for the policy change has been nearly unanimous, but the reasoning behind those sentiments varied.

Dozens of submissions came from patients, many of whom complained about pharmaceuticals they’d been prescribed and felt cannabis was a more effective treatment option. One person who said he or she is a registered nurse sided with those patients and wrote “in my professional opinion, it is both harmful and unethical to prohibit patients access to this medicinal plant.”

Others pointed out that marijuana is not as harmful as other legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. Several people argued that prohibition is an infringement on civil liberties.

Military veterans were also strongly represented in the comments, with some saying cannabis has helped treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

“I am a 59 y/o military veteran. I know first hand how effective a pain reliever cannabis can be,” one person wrote. “It is my strong opinion cannabis should be legal and regulated.”

Some brought a political angle to their comment. A self-described straight ticket Republican voter said he voted for Donald Trump in the last election, but that he will “endorse the next candidate who supports marijuana legalization.” Another person suggested that the president should legalize cannabis to troll liberals, delivering on an issue that is increasingly popular on a bipartisan basis.

“It’s draconian that you’re allowing states to arrest and charge people with felonies for a product that’s readily available in stores in other states,” someone wrote. “It also makes the federal government look completely inept because states have fully legalized starting in 2012. It’s been nearly a decade and there’s yet to be any sort of federal action.”

One of the only comments expressing opposition to loosening marijuana laws under international treaties relied on stoner stereotypes: “Cannabis makes you Dumb, Lazy, & Hungry !”

Taken as a whole, though, it’s clear that the public wants the U.S. to back marijuana reform when the issue comes up for a vote, which could happen later this month but might be delayed until a later UN meeting.

If adopted, the WHO recommendations wouldn’t change U.S. law—which classifies marijuana under the most restrictive category of Schedule I—or allow UN member states to legalize the sale of cannabis without violating international treaties. But approving WHO’s recommended changes would likely embolden more countries follow in the footsteps of Canada and Uruguay, which have legalized marijuana regardless of UN policy.

Expect more comments to flow in as the deadline, March 14, approaches. The last time the FDA solicited public input on cannabis rescheduling, more than 20,000 people made their voices heard.

World Health Organization Recommends Reclassifying Marijuana Under International Treaties

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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Senate Schedules Hearing On Marijuana Business Banking Access

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In one of the clearest signs of marijuana reform’s growing momentum on Capitol Hill, a Republican-controlled Senate committee has scheduled a hearing for next week that will examine cannabis businesses’ lack of access to banking services.

The formal discussion in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Tuesday comes as legislation aimed at resolving the marijuana industry’s financial services problems is gaining momentum. A House cannabis banking bill that cleared that chamber’s Financial Services Committee with a bipartisan vote in March now has 206 cosponsors—nearly half the body—while companion Senate legislation has 32 out of 100 senators signed on.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

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Congressman Files Marijuana Bill After Leaving Republican Party

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In one of his first legislative acts since leaving the Republican Party earlier this month amid a feud with the president, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) filed a bill on Monday that would let states set their own marijuana policies without federal interference.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because bipartisan legislation that would accomplish the same goal has already been filed this Congress.

But unlike the nearly identical Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, Amash’s new bill excludes one provision that would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the effects of cannabis legalization on road safety and issue a report on its findings within a year of the law’s enactment.

That language states that the GAO must study “traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries” in legal cannabis states, actions taken by those states to “address marihuana-impaired driving,” testing standards being used to detect impaired driving and federal initiatives “aiming to assist States that have legalized marihuana with traffic safety.”

Given Amash’s libertarian leanings, it stands to reason that he opposes spending government dollars to conduct the research and simply supports the broader states’ rights intent of the original legislation.

That would also put him at odds with social justice advocates who feel that the STATES Act itself doesn’t go far enough and are pushing for more comprehensive legislation that includes additional provisions addressing social equity and restorative justice for people harmed by drug law enforcement.

Members of the House Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee heard that debate play out during a historic hearing on ending federal marijuana prohibition last week.

A newly formed coalition of civil rights and drug reform organizations, including the ACLU, is also insisting on passing wide-ranging legislation to deschedule cannabis entirely that also invests in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition.

Amash is a long-standing critic of the war on drugs and earlier this year signed on as a cosponsor of a separate bill that would federally deschedule marijuana. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, filed that legislation, which is also silent on social equity provisions.

Gabbard also introduced a separate bill that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to study the impacts of legalization. True to form, Amash declined to add his name to that measure as well.

Read the text of Amash’s new cannabis bill below:

AMASH_038_xml by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Former GOP Congressman Explains Why Broad Marijuana Reform Is Achievable In 2020

Photo courtesy of Kyle Jaeger.

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Berkeley City Council Considers Decriminalizing Psychedelics This Week

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A resolution to decriminalize psilocybin and other psychedelics will go before a Berkeley, California City Council committee on Wednesday.

Decriminalize Nature, the group behind the measure, also led the charge to successfully get a measure decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi approved by the City Council in neighboring Oakland last month.

In Berkeley, the Public Safety Committee will discuss the proposal and can either decide to hold it for a future meeting or advance it to the full Council. The public is able to attend Wednesday’s special meeting and share their perspective on the resolution, but Decriminalize Nature stressed in a tweet that this “is a small meeting, so you do NOT need to attend.”

However, city residents are being encouraged to write to their Council members and urge them to vote in favor of the measure, which would codify that “no department, agency, board, commission, officer or employee of the city, including without limitation, Berkeley Police Department personnel, shall use any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties for the use and possession of Entheogenic Plants by adults of at least 21 years of age.”

The resolution defines the covered substances as “plants and natural sources such as mushrooms, cacti, iboga containing plants and/or extracted combinations of plants similar to ayahuasca; and limited to those containing the following types of compounds: indoleamines, tryptamines, phenethylamines.”

Councilmembers Rigel Robinson and Cheryl Davila are sponsoring the resolution, which does not allow for commercial sales or manufacturing.

The lawmakers provided background information on the measure in a report to their colleagues and the mayor, describing the medical potential of various psychedelics as well as the success of decriminalization measures in Denver and Oakland.

“It is intended that this resolution empowers Berkeley residents to be able to grow their own entheogens, share them with their community, and choose the appropriate setting for their intentions instead of having to rely exclusively on the medical establishment, which is slow to adapt and difficult to navigate for many,” they wrote.

While efforts to eliminate criminal penalties associated with psilocybin and other psychedelics have so far centered in jurisdictions that have historically embraced marijuana legalization and broader drug reform, the conversation around decriminalizing psychedelics is spreading nationally.

Shortly after Oakland approved its measure, Decriminalize Nature received inquiries from activities in cities from across the country. The group has kept track of each city where organizers are pursuing decriminalization.

On Monday, a conversation around changing laws governing psychedelics reared during a City Council meeting in Columbia, Missouri. One resident implored the body to take up a resolution to decriminalize the natural substances, pointing to their therapeutic benefits.

Councilmember Mike Trapp said that the student’s proposal should be considered and that a government advisory board on public health should provide input on the medical potential of psychedelics, describing it as “very promising.”

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Two Cannabis Bills While Letting Decriminalization Become Law

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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