Last month saw the official legalization of cannabis sales across Canada making it the first country with a big economy to legalize marijuana nationally. The latest development is great news for the Canadians, but this has left many people across the globe, especially in the United States pondering when their turn will come.
However, here is a way we can help bring about the desired change in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration had announced that they are accepting public opinions on reclassifying cannabis under international treaties up to 31st October.
Moreover, the World Health Organization is set to meet in November this year in Geneva to discuss, “the harmful use, legitimate use as well as potential impact of international control and status of national control,” of marijuana and other substances, including fentanyls and synthetic cannabinoids.
According to Leslie, the FDA’s associate commissioner for policy, the public comments will be considered when preparing a response from the US to the WHO concerning the diversion and the abuse liability of these drugs. “The World Health Organization will consider this information when deciding whether to recommend placing certain international restrictions on these drugs,” said Leslie.
The FDA’s approach, which requires people to give their opinions sound bureaucratic and complicated, but it really matters. It is among the few chances that you have to provide your contribution on drug policy directly to the federal government. Besides, it offers an opportunity to influence the international agreements, which stand in the way of the legalization of cannabis in the US and across the globe.
Currently, cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the global drug policy agreements just like it is domestically, which is the most restrictive category. All the countries that are part of those international agreements are prohibited from legalizing marijuana in theory.
However, the international community has suddenly become aware of the need to have cannabis reform. For instance, the EDD (WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence) declared that pure CBD (Cannabidiol) should not be scheduled under international agreements earlier this year. The United Nations Body identified CBD to be well tolerated generally with an excellent safety profile. Unfortunately, the global drug agreements yet continue to get in the way of the reform of cannabis and even CBD in the US.
As you might know, the FDA approved the use of a purified CBD medication, Epidiolex for the treatment of certain epilepsy conditions. Epidiolex is a medication that is made by GW Pharmaceuticals, which is based in the UK. The approval of this purified CBD medication required the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule the CBD-based drug. However, the rescheduling that was done in September left CBD itself still under Schedule 1, which means that the substance is still considered illegal by the federal government.
After the developments, an internal FDA memo leaked to the public that revealed their own findings suggested that CBD should not be classified under the Controlled Substance Act, except for the annoying international agreements.
Kyle Jaeger, who is the editor of Marijuana Moment, covered the story about the FDA internal memo in-depth. In May, the FDA wrote to the DEA “CBD could be removed from the Controlled Substances Act since studies have shown that CBD and its salts do not have a significant potential for abuse.”
However, the memo also stated that Robert Patterson, (the then DEA Acting Administrator) had advised the FDA that rescheduling of CBD altogether would have amounted to a violation of international drug agreements that the US has signed.
The letter also reveals, “In April, the DEA asserted that if the CBD were decontrolled under CSA, the US would find it hard to maintain obligations under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.”
Consequently, the FDA changed its recommendation and advised the DEA to reschedule CBD and place it in Schedule V instead, which is the least restrictive category under federal law.
The FDA also wrote, “If the treaty obligations do not require the international controls on CBD or if CBD control change in the future, the above recommendation will require to be revisited promptly.” This means that international drug treaties matter so much when it comes to legalization of cannabis or any other substance.
Besides, you will also notice that the DEA did not follow the ultimate advice from the FDA since it only rescheduled Epidiolex, instead of doing the same to all CBD under the federal law, which means that CBD is still in Schedule 1, under the US law. The Marijuana Moment article also notes, “When it comes to cannabis, the DEA and FDA do not always see eye-to-eye.”
The international drug agreements offer a cover for federal officials to continue to support the US drug war. However, amending such treaties in a way that deals with marijuana more reasonably will provide the national governments like ours with more freedom to chart their course independently. The approach by the federal government to allow you to give your comments on how cannabis should be reclassified under international treaties provides a better chance for you to voice your opinion for a change.
Some people have concerns whether the Trump administration will consider the public comments when preparing a response to the World Health Organization, but this remains an open question. Nevertheless, let us wait because we had until midnight Eastern Time on October 31st to exercise this right.
Medical marijuana: Medical necessity versus political agenda: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628147/
The White House wants your opinion on reclassifying cannabis: https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/the-white-house-wants-your-opinion-on-reclassifying-cannabis?fbclid=IwAR3tnm7Xv7ruzMV3-pXMSPkvnguDjAfLnZEMfZJ5eZQN-zHG0FSja90SdXQ
The White House wants you opinion on reclassifying cannabis: https://www.democraticunderground.org/100211300972
Reclassifying pot could usher in a new era in medical marijuana research: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/reclassifying-pot-could-usher-in-a-new-era-in-medical-marijuana-research