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Major Trucking Industry Group Urges Feds To Lift Marijuana Research Roadblocks

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The American Trucking Associations (ATA) endorsed a set of marijuana-related policies on Tuesday, and that includes lifting federal restrictions on cannabis research.

A working group that studied the impact of state-level legalization efforts developed a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety on the roads and preventing impaired driving by truckers.

Among the stances that ATA’s Board of Directors approved is a position in support of increasing marijuana research, specifically when it comes to studies on impairment and drug testing technology. To encourage such investigations, the group said that it supports “lifting federal restrictions on marijuana research,” according to a copy of the recommendations that was shared with Marijuana Moment.

It’s not clear what ATA is specifically advocating for in order to lift those research barriers, but there’s general agreement that rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act represents one essential tool to accomplish that. A representative for the organization did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on its position regarding cannabis scheduling.

“Research on marijuana should include the effects of mixed-use (alcohol and marijuana) and polydrug use (marijuana and other controlled substances)” as well as “the use of oral fluid testing in developing impairment standards,” ATA, which represents more than 37,000 members, said.

Other recommendations from the organization’s Controlled Substances and Driver Health and Wellness Working Group include developing a policy that ensures employers can drug test drivers for marijuana, pursuing regulatory and legislation changes to permit drug testing “alternative specimens” such as hair and saliva. As it stands, the U.S. Department of Transportation only permits testing of urine samples.

ATA also supports the creation of a “marijuana victim’s compensation fund” that would be funded by cannabis dispensaries, growers and manufacturers. The policy doesn’t lay out who would be eligible for compensation or exactly how the funding would be sourced from industry participants.

Another recommendation that could be viewed as particularly controversial endorses the adoption of state and federal legislation that would “require that each time marijuana is dispensed to an individual, it is reported to the state” prescription drug monitoring program.

“ATA has long been an advocate for reducing impaired driving—in all its forms—so it only makes sense that we would call upon state and federal governments to consider the impact of increased use of marijuana on our roadways,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a press release. “As an industry that operates in all 50 states and across national borders, we need all levels of government to help us keep our roads and drivers drug-free.”

“This policy allows us to, while recognizing that the modern world is changing, advocate for strong, safety-oriented policies backed by sound science and data,” he added.

The list goes on to recommend support for impaired driving laws that allow law enforcement to prosecute drivers who are under the influence, increasing federal funding for drug recognition experts and facilities to test samples for evidence of drug use, creating a frequently asked questions guide to help the industry keep up with federal and state regulations, promoting the working group’s recommendations through congressional lobbying and public affairs channels and creating education programs in partnership with allies.

Working group members “are confident implementation of the Working Group’s recommendations is the first step to help mitigate the impacts of marijuana legalization on highway safety or the trucking industry’s ability to recruit and hire qualified individuals,” the document states.

Marijuana was a topic of conversation during a session at ATA’s conference this week.

Spear also briefly discussed cannabis policy during a keynote speech at the event, offering a window into the organization’s rationale behind establishing the working group.

“Eleven states, D.C. and Canada have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, all while our federal government turns a blind eye,” he said. “And guess who gets caught in the middle?”

“You can just see the trial lawyers, sitting on the edge of their high, wing-back leather chairs, drooling over the thought of more legal ambiguity. We can’t just sit back and hand them yet another opportunity to litigate our industry,” he said. “To change direction, we need a member-led policy platform that helps lawmakers, regulators and courts make informed decisions about the impact substance abuse is having on safety and interstate commerce.”

Read ATA’s marijuana recommendations below:

ATA CSDHW WG Recommendation… by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Leading Civil Rights Group Calls On Lawmakers To Support Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization Bill

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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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California Governor Signs Marijuana Tax Fairness Bill But Vetoes Cannabis In Hospitals

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Saturday that he signed several marijuana-related bills into law—including one that will let legal businesses take advantage of more tax deductions—but also vetoed another measure that would have allowed some patients to use medical cannabis in health care facilities.

Under a section of current federal law known as 280E, marijuana growers, processors and sellers are unable to deduct expenses from their taxes that businesses in any other sector would be able to write off. Until now, California policy simply mirrored the federal approach.

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.)

Photo courtesy of Carlos Gracia.

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Former Congressman Who Fought Marijuana Legalization Joins Cannabis Company Board

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A former GOP congressman with a long track record of opposing marijuana legalization efforts is now cashing in on the legal cannabis industry.

FSD Pharma, a Canadian company that is a licensed producer of “pharmaceutical grade cannabis” through its subsidiary FV Pharma and researches cannabinoid-based therapies, announced on Friday that former Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) joined its board of directors. Missing from the press release is mention of his legislative history that includes repeated actions to oppose federal protections for state-level marijuana reforms.

From 1998 to 2000, Buyer cosponsored two resolutions and one bill aimed at condemning legalization and upholding federal prohibition. His opposition extended to limited medical cannabis reforms, too, voting five times from 2003 to 2007 against an amendment to protect state laws and the patients and providers complying with them from federal prosecution.

One of the anti-marijuana resolutions he signed onto passed the House but did not advance in the Senate. As introduced, it characterized cannabis as “both dangerous and addictive” and stated that “Congress is unequivocally opposed to legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, and urges the defeat of State initiatives that would seek to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.”

The version that passed, which Buyer voted for, expressed concerns that “ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use are contributing to a growing acceptance of marijuana use among children and teenagers” and noting that federal authorities can enforce prohibition “through seizure and other civil action, as well as through criminal penalties.”

The separate bill he cosponsored sought to declare state laws that allow cannabis use as “null and void.”

“[I]t is the intent of the Congress to supersede any and all laws of the States and units of local government insofar as they may now or hereafter effectively permit or purport to authorize the use, growing, manufacture, distribution, or importation by an individual or group of marijuana or any controlled substance which differs from the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act or regulations issued  pursuant thereto,” it read.

It’s not quite clear what changed for Buyer, but his appointment to the board of a major marijuana company that has benefitted from the successful reform movement he opposed is sure to raise questions.

In response to Marijuana Moment’s query about what accounted for the former congressman’s evolution on the issue, FSD Pharma President Zeeshan Saeed simply replied, “3M options as all other Directors and $40k cash comp.”

Hours later, Saeed clarified that he intended to send that reply to another journalist.

Raza Bokhari, executive co-chairman and CEO of FSD Pharma, said in a subsequent email that he’s known Buyer for years and believes that while he “remains opposed to recreational use of cannabis,” he “has come to recognize the potential of cannabinoid molecule in drug development targeting auto-immune diseases, especially the role of synthetic cannabinoids and other cannabinoids targeting the endocannibinoid system of the human body.”

The former congressman has been on “a very personal journey, with his wife being plagued with an auto-immune disease that has no cure and others in her family also that suffer from auto-immune diseases,” Bokhari said.

He added that Buyer has personally invested a quarter of a million dollars in the company and compared him to former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who also joined the marijuana industry after opposing cannabis reform while serving in Congress.

In a press release announcing the appointment, Buyer said the “opportunity to participate in FSD’s growth at this stage is exciting” and that he’s “attracted by FSD’s medical research to tame and define the unknown by challenging the edges of medical science to provide relief to people suffering from fibromyalgia and other serious illnesses.”

One industry that the former congressman’s actions did assist while in office and later went on to work for as a lobbyist is Big Tobacco. Buyer raised eyebrows in 2009 when he opposed legislation to regulate the tobacco industry and argued in a House floor speech that a person is just as likely to experience the health consequences of cigarettes if they were to smoke dried lettuce or grass. He insisted that it’s “smoke that kills, not the nicotine.”

Shortly after retiring, Buyer joined tobacco company Reynolds American as a lobbyist and paid consultant.

There have been several reports that noted Buyer’s decision not to run for reelection in 2010 came amid controversy over a foundation he founded. The Frontier Foundation was supposed to provide educational funding for students, but while it raked in tens of thousands from pharmaceutical interests such as Ely Lilly and PhRMA over a three-year period, it reportedly hadn’t distributed a single scholarship.

His retirement came months after USA Today and the Indianapolis Star reported on the foundation’s activities.

But now, Buyer is entering the cannabis space, and the company described his experience in the pharmaceutical industry and Congress as an asset.

“In welcoming Steve Buyer to the FSD Pharma Board of Directors and announcing a share consolidation, the Company has made an immense positive stride forward” FSD Pharma CEO Raza Bokhari said. “Steve’s addition has further strengthened the independence and profile of the FSD Pharma Board of Directors; his broad leadership experience and pharmaceutical industry relationships will help enhance our visibility, especially among U.S. Institutional investors and on U.S. Capitol Hill.”

Buyer also previously served as a special assistant U.S. attorney and an Indiana deputy attorney general.

This story has been updated to include additional comment from FSD Pharma’s CEO. 

Inside Mitch McConnell’s Private Lunch Meeting With The Marijuana Industry

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Inventors File Patent Application For Scratch-And-Sniff Marijuana Packages

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Scratch-and-sniff marijuana packaging could be coming to a dispensary near you.

An application for a patent on the cannabis container concept was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday. In order to comply with state regulations while at the same time ensuring consumers know what they’re buying, the inventors are pitching a secure package that uses non-THC volatiles to produce the scent of the product when a sticker on the exterior is scratched.

The applicants recognized in their filing that there’s an existing patent application for scratch-and-sniff stickers that are meant to identify the flavor of coffee, but argued their idea is distinct because the other application produced the scent of coffee after it’s brewed whereas this sticker would smell like cannabis in its unsmoked form.

“A major hurdle to the purchase of Cannabis is the secure packaging laws of various states,” the application states. “Packaging can often prevent a purchaser from observing certain characteristics of the Cannabis, such as its scent.”

In a summary of the proposal, the applicants said the “general purpose of the present invention is to provide a Cannabis package and method of selection that includes all the advantages of the secure packaging, and overcomes the drawbacks inherent therein.”

Random Vaughn and Jonathan Tanzer via USPTO.

Another advantage of the proposed packaging is to help patients identify medicinal properties of different marijuana varieties, or assess quality, without having to open the product, the applicants, Random Vaughn and Jonathan Tanzer of Olympia, Washington, argued. They said that scent is is important in “selecting Cannabis for medical reasons such as seizures, headaches, or insomnia.”

The application lists two iterations of the concept. The main one would involve a sticker that would be infused with the scent of cannabis. Terpenes, which are non-intoxicating compounds in the plant that give cannabis its smell and taste, would be used to produce the scent.

For the other, the scent wouldn’t correspond with the actual small of the marijuana itself, but instead various flavor notes, which are sometimes used in cannabis marketing to describe the product’s qualities similar to what’s often done with wine. The applicants listed a diverse list of potential smells, including freshly cut grass, bread, vanilla, bacon, fish and chips, a Christmas tree, cinnamon, after shave, shampoo, the seaside, furniture polish and a Sunday roast.

Seth Rogen And Snoop Dogg Offer Marijuana Advice To First-Time Consumers

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