Trump Seeks Public Comments On Marijuana
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Trump Seeks Public Comments On Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on October 12, 2018 at 20:14:17 PT
By Tom Angell, Contributor
Source: Forbes 
Washington, D.C. -- The federal government wants your input on whether marijuana should be reclassified under global drug treaties to which the U.S. is a party.Specifically, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking for public comments about the "abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use" of cannabis and several other substances now under international review.
Under current U.S. federal law as well as global drug policy agreements, marijuana is classified in the most restrictive category of Schedule I. At home, that means it is considered illegal and not available for prescription, while research on its potential benefits is heavily restricted. Cannabis's international status means that nations who are signatories of drug control treaties are not supposed to legalize it, though that hasn't stopped Canada and Uruguay from doing so.Public comments on marijuana's effects and legal status "will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs," Leslie Kux, FDA's associate commissioner for policy, wrote in a Federal Register filing published on Wednesday. "WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs."WHO's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is meeting in Geneva next month to consider the classification of marijuana and other substances, and is now seeking to "gather information on the legitimate use, harmful use, status of national control and potential impact of international control," the United Nations body said in a notice excerpted in the FDA filing.Earlier this year, ECDD determined that cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana shown to have medical benefits without intoxicating properties like other cannabinoids such as THC, should not be scheduled under international drug control conventions.“CBD has been found to be generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” the UN body found in its critical review. "There is no evidence that CBD as a substance is liable to similar abuse and similar ill-effects as substances...such as cannabis or THC, respectively. The Committee recommended that preparations considered to be pure CBD should not be scheduled.”The body also agreed to undergo an in-depth critical review of the marijuana plant and its resins and extracts, as well as THC itself. That new review is what triggered the FDA's request for public comment on Wednesday.The Trump administration sought public comments from interested parties in advance of an earlier UN pre-review on marijuana as well."Any comments received will be considered by [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] when it prepares a scientific and medical evaluation for drug substances that is responsive to the WHO Questionnaire for these drug substances," the new FDA notice says. "HHS will forward such evaluation of these drug substances to WHO, for WHO's consideration in deciding whether to recommend international control/decontrol of any of these drug substances."Legalization advocates are hopeful that a hard look at the data on marijuana's effects will inevitably lead to a pro-reform conclusion.“A careful review of the relevant science does not now, nor has it ever, supported a hard-line approach to cannabis scheduling. Cannabis’s abuse potential relative to other substances, including legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications, does not warrant its continued criminalization under either U.S. or international law," Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, said in an email. "By any rational assessment, cannabis prohibition is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern. But it should not be a criminal justice matter and international laws should no longer classify it as such."Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, agreed."The time has come for marijuana to be removed from the federal drug schedules. There is no longer any doubt that it has significant medical value, and the science is clear that it is less harmful than many legal medical products," he said. "While marijuana is not harmless — few, if any, products are — it poses less harm than alcohol to consumers and to society. The U.S. led the world into the quagmire of cannabis prohibition, so it should lead the world out of it by descheduling cannabis and implementing a more evidence-based policy."That said, the feds aren't planning to make any cannabis recommendations to the UN panel ahead of its review meetings next month."Instead, HHS will defer such consideration until WHO has made official recommendations to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which are expected to be made in mid-2018," the Federal Register notice says. "Any HHS position regarding international control of these drug substances will be preceded by another Federal Register notice soliciting public comments."In addition to marijuana and its components, the WHO committee is also reviewing several synthetic cannabinoids, fentanyls and other substances.FDA has hinted that international rescheduling of marijuana and its components could influence changes to its legal status here at home.This month, FDA publicly released a letter it sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) earlier this year suggesting that CBD should be completely removed from federal control.Cannabidiol has a “negligible potential for abuse” and has a “currently accepted medical use in treatment,” the agency found.But, because of international drug treaty obligations, FDA conceded that the substance needs to be scheduled, concluding that it should be placed under the least-restrictive category of Schedule V.“If treaty obligations do not require control of CBD, or if the international controls on CBD change in the future, this recommendation will need to be promptly revisited,” FDA wrote in its analysis to DEA.That document, dated in May, preceded the WHO's determination that CBD should not be globally scheduled, and was part of the federal government's approval and rescheduling last month of CBD-based drug Epidiolex, which is used for severe epilepsy disorders. It is not clear why the U.S. government subsequently decided to place FDA-approved CBD medications in the federal Schedule V, with an appeal to global treaties that the UN now says shouldn't schedule the substance.For now, FDA is accepting public comments on marijuana and the other substances currently under UN review via the web until October 31. Interested parties can also submit written comments via mail.Ultimately, WHO will make a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who oversaw the enactment of drug decriminalization as Portugal's prime minister, a policy he has touted in his current capacity.I'm a 15-year veteran of the cannabis law reform movement, and I know where to look to spot the most interesting legalization developments. I'm the editor of the cannabis news site Marijuana Moment, and I founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment news and founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Newshawk: AfterburnerSource: Forbes Magazine (US)Author: Tom Angell, ContributorPublished: October 10, 2018Copyright: 2018 Forbes Inc.Contact: readers forbes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on October 14, 2018 at 18:39:57 PT
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
I did not know that detail. That's nice. I think it likely bodes well for worldwide change towards more sane and just laws concerning cannabis."Ultimately, WHO will make a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who oversaw the enactment of drug decriminalization as Portugal's prime minister, a policy he has touted in his current capacity."
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 14, 2018 at 09:54:08 PT
Change is Coming
Yes change is happening. In my state a city not far from here is growing medical cannabis. That is amazing to me.
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on October 14, 2018 at 08:25:48 PT
change is happening
I think banning personal growing would be extremely difficult to enforce. It couldn’t be stopped when cannabis was illegal, and it would be even more difficult and futile to enforce when cannabis is legal. It would just defy common sense to most people. If it is legal, it is legal. To say it is only legal to get it from an authorized vender, but you cannot grow a little bit for yourself is not going to seem right. But half a loaf is better than none. So let’s take what we can get now and work to make changes, if necessary, later.One hopeful thing that I have noticed is that my local newspaper, which has been the voice of conservatism for over a century, recently came out cautiously approving the re-legalization of recreational cannabis providing that the rules and regulations could be done right (whatever that means.). Now get this, their main argument against legal cannabis was its aroma. They didn’t like the smell of cannabis smoke. (How would they know what cannabis smoke smelled like in the first place?) They seemed like they never heard about vaporizers or editable products. Anyway, I will take that as a positive sign that there is some hope in my state.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on October 14, 2018 at 05:08:18 PT
John Tyler
I remember thinking that way too. It is going to be such a big industry and will make so many more jobs then it has already. Made in America and a renewable will be so good for the country. I do hope people will be able to grow their own like people can brew beer too. 
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on October 13, 2018 at 18:29:15 PT
Walmart too
Oh yeah, Walmart might be selling cannabis at its Canadian stores also.
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on October 13, 2018 at 08:21:31 PT
in the news
That is very interesting, and some sign of progress. I hope the pro cannabis folks that have an eloquent bureaucratic/medical style of writing will all join in and contribute their thoughts during the comment period. Cannabis is not the “boogeyman” it was portrayed to be by the prohibitionists and this monstrous error needs to be corrected.Also, this is in the news. Search Alteria cannabis. Your search engine screen will fill up with stories about Alteria (formerly known as Philip Morris Co. Inc., a huge U.S. tobacco company.) being interested in buying into Aphria, a Canadian cannabis company. (This has implications for a U.S. market as you can well imagine.) This is after Coca Cola is in development for making a CBD cola, and Coors brewing Co. is interested in making a non-alcoholic cannabis beer. It looks like some social/business/political tectonic plates are shifting here, not for reasons of social justice but for profit, to see the end of cannabis prohibition worldwide. The hippies, in the days of yore, predicted that when the tobacco companies got interested in the production of cannabis, it would be legal again. It would seem that their prophetic words are coming to pass.
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