Dozens of bipartisan Congressional leaders signed onto a letter pressing top law enforcement agencies for faster action in approving marijuana cultivation for government research. The Associated Press reports the letter advocated for more analysis of the medicinal properties, benefits and potential risks of the drug.
Orange County marijuana farming lawyers know this would be a substantial first step to decriminalizing cannabis at the national level, a move that could have significant implications for state-legal dispensaries. Because cannabis remains illegal under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act – especially in the highest-risk classification – California marijuana farms, production centers, labs, landlords and ancillary businesses know the Cole Memo is little more than a tenuous truce. They are largely at the mercy of political whims, and while it seems certain legalization (or at least lower classification) will be inevitable, the question is: When?
A Schedule I narcotic like marijuana is considered by law to be extremely dangerous, highly addictive and have no medicinal value. Even those opposed to federal legalization for recreation know this description is absurd. The problem is its classification has prevented reputable study for decades. Yet the government has argued it doesn’t have enough data to eschew the Schedule I categorization – so it becomes a catch-22.
Congressional Leaders Assert Prompt Action Needed on Pot Policy
As it stands, the federal government has approved just one grower to harvest all pot produced for government research. Lawmakers argued this was woefully inadequate, particularly as there is growing evidence the drug can be a powerfully effective means to treat an array of medical conditions.
The process of quality, peer-reviewed study takes time, legislators note. As it stands, any federal research (which holds the most weight when it comes to policy change) must be approved by three separate federal bureaucracies. And that single, licensed grow operation? It’s in Mississippi, and many researchers say not only does it not produce enough, but the quality is sub-par. Even if it were great quality, there are currently so many different cannabis varieties and processing methods that any singular grower would be unable to keep up.
The result is that some cannabis researchers take years to get government approval just to start their study. Lawmakers asked for the DEA and the DOJ to do what is necessary to expedite and improve the application process for researchers and expand research opportunities for cannabis in general.
One of those leading the charge was Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California. The federal agencies addressed in the letter did not respond to comment by journalists.
As it stands, 33 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Ten, including California, have approved of legal sales for recreational use.
Changes to federal drug policy that would allow more research would ultimately allow us to craft smarter regulation that allows for streamlined and safe production and mutual benefit for businesses and taxpayers and maximum. Shedding the state-federal legal conflict will also help close safety and regulatory loopholes.
DOJ, DEA urged to expedite process for green-lighting marijuana growers, researchers, May 8, 2019, Associated Press
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