Alibi V.28 No.37 • Sept 12-18, 2019 

News on the Green

Interstate Flower

The Phoenix New Times reports that Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez became the first Arizonan to be issued a New Mexico medical cannabis card. Readers of Weekly Alibi cannabis coverage are already familiar with the sequence of events that made it possible for residents of Arizona, such as Rodriguez, to apply for and be granted access to New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. In summary, changes made to the wording of state cannabis law—namely replacing the term “resident” with “person”—were intended to offer reciprocity to patients of other states’ programs; this change provided a legal basis for Rodriguez to sue for and ultimately be granted access.

But, as New Times coverage notes, Rodriguez stands to “benefit financially from growth in New Mexico's cannabis industry, particularly if Texans with limited access to cannabis in their own state flock across the border to obtain cards in New Mexico.” While Texas cannabis policy may evolve, the Dallas Observer reports that, “The red state of Texas is known for treating cannabis cases similar to how it treats heroin or methamphetamine cases.” Arizona law permits out-of-state residents with medical cannabis cards to use and possess cannabis in the state but not to purchase it. Former Maricopa County District Attorney Bill Montgomery’s recent appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court doesn’t bode well for efforts to reform cannabis law in that state. As a prosecutor, Montgomery was known for his zealous prosecution of medical cannabis patients and as a notable opponent of cannabis reform.

Essential Lack

American researchers are unable to access the quantity, variety or quality of cannabis necessary to meaningfully advance clinical understanding of cannabis use. These scientists recently received some unexpected support from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As reported by Politico, the agencies’ joint response to US Senator Brian Schatz’s request for information on cannabis research notes that current federal policy and the resulting research climate and regulatory infrastructure includes numerous barriers to cannabis research.

The FDA and NIH’s response to Schatz calls for “licensing additional entities to supply cannabis, including extracts and derivatives” and “streamlining the process for conducting research with cannabis and other Schedule I substances.” Only one American cannabis producer, the University of Mississippi, is presently registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to supply cannabis for scientific research. Thirty-three producers await word on the fate of their applications, and all the while, American cannabis researchers travel a cumbersome, interminable path to access the substance that’s essential to their work and vital for scientific advancement.

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