No sooner had my last review gone to print when I came across the New Mexico Health Department's announcement that in September, the number of active patients enrolled in the state's program had risen to an absolutely insane 48,861. According to the numbers, the majority of N.M. patients suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (19,658 patients), followed by those suffering from severe chronic pain (13,652 patients). The highest concentration of patients is in Bernalillo County (14,405 patients), followed by Santa Fe County (4,560 patients).
I met a reader last week who says he's thinking about getting a card and asked my advice. I might have come off a little too strong, to be honest, but I think everyone who can get a prescription should. If you're reading this, your application better be on its way to the capitol already. I fully expect to see that number rise to 48,862 (or thereabouts).
Near the end of September, without fanfare or a fuss, Target.com started selling a few bottles of CBD oil on their website. The company was offering four CW Hemp products, made by a Denver-based parent company, for sale online as “herbal supplements.”
This might not sound very daring or wild—since cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive and actually undermines the psychoactive effects of THC—but last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency clarified its stance on CBD when it reminded everyone that the cannabinoid was still a part of the cannabis plant and technically illegal.
See, online sellers and CBD advocates were confused for years (some still are), and advertised that CBD oil without any THC and derived from hemp plants was exempt from the federal regulations against cannabis because of the 2014 Farm Bill definition of “industrial hemp” as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC. The DEA's public announcement clarified that this wasn't the case, and that the Farm Bill did not override the Controlled Substance Act. Hemp is cannabis. Cannabis is illegal. Done and done.
Target's decision to sell CBD oil seemed like a slap to the face of the federal government—proof of a cultural shift we all feel coming. Internet news sites began humming on the morning of Sept. 28, as writers scratched their heads and wondered what angle Target was taking.
By the afternoon, the products had been removed and Target had emailed the same statement to multiple news sources: “We started carrying Charlotte’s Web hemp extract items last week on Target.com. After further review, we have decided to remove it from our assortment.”
It seems likely that Target wasn't aware of the legal status of CBD until they started seeing freaked out CBD advocates talking about it online, but the full story behind the move has yet to materialize. Whether the company committed a felony by offering to sell the contraband or not is unclear.
But following the odd debacle, a Colorado-based natural foods chain has announced its (conscious) decision to carry CBD extracts nationwide at all of its 25 locations. Lucky’s Market apothecary director Sindy Wise told the Cannabist, “We’re not afraid to be disruptive and pave the path and be pioneers.” According to Wise, the company consulted with lawyers for the US Food and Drug Administration to make sure labeling and other standards were being met.
Last week, Oregon's Congressman Earl Blumenauer (and Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair) testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health. The hearing—called “Member Day: Testimony and Proposals on the Opioid Crisis”—was organized to discuss the growing issues related to opioid addiction in the US. Blumenauer told them that the simplest solution to the epidemic was legalizing cannabis, and referred to a pamphlet entitled, “Physician Guide to Cannabis-Assisted Opioid Reduction.” The pamphlet includes a list of citations and claims that cannabis is helpful in reducing opioid overdose mortality, reducing opioid consumption, preventing dose escalation and interrupting the development of an opioid tolerance.
You'd probably recognize Blumenauer if you saw him. His iconic glasses and bow tie make him stand out in a crowd of politicians. Blumenauer is a member of the US House of Representatives, a democrat repping Oregon’s third congressional district. He's well known for his pro-environmental stances. He co-authored the newest revision of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment—the budgetary amendment that bars the Department of Justice from spending any money on prosecuting medical cannabis patients and distributors in states where it’s legal. In 2015 he called for the removal of then-acting director of the DEA Chuck Rosenburg because the administrator had called medical cannabis a “joke.”
At the end of his testimony, Blumenauer told the subcommittee members that the “federal government has a stranglehold” on cannabis research that needs to be lifted. In that regard, he called on Congress to pass HR3391, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017—a bit of bipartisan legislation sponsored by Blumenauer, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).