Everywhere you look, the signs of a cultural turn are inescapable.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration denied an anti-cannabis group’s request that cannabis be placed on a list of restricted substances that are not “generally recognized as safe and effective.” They said it was “not necessary for the protection of public health,” according to Forbes.
Drug Watch International filed the petition last December, saying that cannabis companies should not be allowed to “assert and advertise unsupported medical claims for their products.” The “negative monograph” list they wish to see cannabis products added to contains over-the-counter medicines that have not been proven to be effective.
The FDA responded that they already have “adequate authority” to remove unapproved over-the-counter drugs containing THC and said that it's “not necessary for FDA to establish a negative monograph for marijuana or THC.”
While this doesn't change cannabis' legal status, it does indicate that current administration is not actively looking for ways to crack down on the cannabis industry, since it would be a really easy excuse to start locking up producers.
In an uncanny move, one of the worst states to get arrested with cannabis is primed to decriminalize. Last month, the Republican Party of Texas voted to approve their platform—including plank 107, which reads: “We support a change in the law to make it a civil, and not a criminal, offense for legal adults only to possess one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time.”
If you aren't impressed, that's probably because you're unaware that the Lone Star State boasts some of the harshest cannabis laws in the nation. There's also a much more … adamant Evangelical Christian presence in the Bible Belt than in New Mexico—and those kids are traditionally opposed to cannabis use (after all, despite its status as an “herb bearing seed,” it's still intoxicating, and the Bible repeatedly speaks against intoxication).
To summarize: The most anti-cannabis party in one of the most anti-cannabis states is suddenly pro-
New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill last week that could decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would allow states to establish their own cannabis laws (leaving federal authorities to enforce trafficking laws), maintain the Department of Treasury's authority to regulate cannabis advertising, incentivize states to adopt programs to expunge or seal previous cannabis convictions, provide funding for research programs and establish “funding streams” from the Small Business Administration that will go to women and minorities looking to enter the industry.
Most notably, the bill will remove cannabis from its current scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, not only decriminalizing its use, but also opening the door to more research opportunities (since the study of schedule I drugs—like cannabis, LSD, heroin and MDMA—requires DEA approval).
But before you let your guard down, let's take a look at what ol' Jeff Sessions has been up to.
Way back in 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency made the announcement that it would be increasing the number of authorized cannabis manufacturers to produce subjects for research purposes. At the time, only the University of Mississippi was allowed to grow the drug for federal testing, and it was generally said to be of piss-poor quality.
Everyone got real excited at the prospect of expanded, DEA-approved cannabis research. But after two years, the excitement has waned. Not a single producer has been approved for licensing yet (despite 26 applicants to the program), and it seems the culprit behind the slowdown is none other than that evil little gremlin calling himself attorney general.
According to Civilized., Sessions has been blocking progress on the applications, claiming that the DEA can't handle the workload required. US Senators Orrin Hatch and Kamala Harris gave Sessions a deadline of May 15 to explain why he'd been stalling the process and get the damn thing moving—a deadline he ignored.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee filed a report along with the appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education that criticized “barriers to research.” The report specifically cited concerns “that restrictions associated with Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act effectively limit the amount and type of research that can be conducted on certain Schedule 1 drugs, especially marijuana or its component chemicals and certain synthetic drugs.”
The committee is led by members of the GOP, highlighting a seachange in the Republican Party's view of cannabis.