Curt’s Cannabis Corner: What Is Delta-8 THC?

 

UPDATE: “Understanding Legal Status”

Editor’s Note:  Welcome to the first installment in the new series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry of this specialand newly legalherb.  

For the next two weeks, Curt teaches readers about the hot new phytomolecule delta-8 THC that is causing such a stir among consumers, entrepreneurs, and medical professionals.


CURT’S CANNABIS CORNER

What is Delta-8 THC?

By Curt Robbins

For years, the producers, processors, distributors, marketers, regulators, and consumers of cannabis have focused primarily on only two molecules produced by the plant: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both are sold by thousands of companies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

 

As a wave of medical and adult use marijuana legalization reaches beyond North America to the far corners of the globe, companies are beginning to promote and exploit additional wellness molecules produced by cannabis and hemp. Creative entrepreneurs and product formulators are seeing the advantages, both financially and legally, of leveraging molecular options beyond CBD and THC. 

The Big Picture

The cannabis/hemp plant species produces three primary families of wellness molecules that, together, number in the hundreds. There are approximately 146 cannabinoids, 20 flavonoids, and 200 terpenesthe majority of which have demonstrated significant medicinal efficacy, as revealed by thousands of peer-reviewed research studies since the late 18th century. 

Before delving into the details of delta-8 THC, it is important to properly frame the topic.   

Understanding Molecular Analogs 

Most cannabis consumers are ignorant of the fact that the chemical compounds produced by cannabis are members of small groups called analogs (sometimes cited as isomers in research literature). In fact, the CBD family features seven distinct analogs, as does the cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG).    

 

THC is no exception. The analog with which most consumers are familiar is the infamous delta-9 variant (technically called the neutral analog), which produces sometimes significant psychoactivity. There’s also the acidic precursor THCA, which conveys no psychoactivity but significant wellness benefits and is popular as a juiced edible.

Yet another THC analog is the varin version, THCV, which conveys greater psychoactivity than delta-9, but only at more potent doses. An Italian research study published in December 2019 discovered additional THC and CBD analogs, THCP and CBDP, respectively (the researchers dubbed them the phorols). Delta-8 THC is yet another member of this collection of molecular analogs.

While molecular analogs sometimes share many of the same effects when consumed by humans (such as decreased systemic inflammation or an alleviation of depression or pain), such homogeneity cannot be assumed. For example, while delta-8 and delta-9 THC both stimulate appetite, THCV decreases it! Another frequently confusing feature of cannabinoids is a characteristic called the biphasic response curve. This mechanism involves a molecule producing one effect at a low dose and a differentand sometimes polar oppositeeffect at a stronger dose. 

A good example of the mechanism of biphasic response curves is delta-9 THC. At low doses, this molecule is known for helping consumers manage stress and decrease anxiety (“Netflix and chill, dude”). At more potent doses, however, the same molecule can cause increases in anxiety and paranoia and even result in panic attacks. 

In the end, the differences between cannabinoid analogs are good because they provide additional options to patients and lifestyle consumers. Crohn’s disease and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experience sometimes extreme nausea and lack of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and worsen their health. Wellness molecules that function as effective appetite stimulants are of obvious value to such consumer populations. 

Understanding Hemp vs. Cannabis

To properly understand the characteristics of delta-8 THC relative to the myriad molecules produced by the cannabis plant, one must first gain insight into the legal and technical differences between hemp and cannabis. Hemp is considered any sample of the plant that tests below 0.3 percent (one-third of one percent) delta-9 THC in weight by volume (research has indicated that psychotropic effects do not manifest in most adult consumers until samples feature at least one percent delta-9 THC). 

Hemp and cannabis have been illegal in the United States since August 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed by Congress. In December 2018, Congress reversed course after 81 years of prohibition by enacting the Farm Bill, which legalized samples of the plant containing below the 0.3 percent delta-9 THC standard employed in North America. Europe features a stricter 0.2 percent delta-9 THC limit, although this may change to 0.3 percent, in alignment with global market leaders such as the U.S. and Canada, in the near future.    

Delta-9 THC is currently considered a Schedule I drug which, by definition, implies that it provides zero medicinal benefit while displaying a strong propensity for abuse. Delta-8 THC, however, is legally categorized as a component of hemp, meaning that it falls under different regulatory oversight and can be sold in dozens of U.S. states. Legally, delta-8 and delta-9 THC are in different universes. From a regulatory perspective, delta-8 THC is managed more similarly to CBD. 

This important legal distinction means that companies can formulate and market products containing delta-8 THC and sell them in most states. Delta-9 THC products, on the contrary, can be produced and sold in only 15 U.S. states, with no interstate commerce or merchant banking permitted under the current scheme of federal prohibition. 

Understanding Legal Status

Hemp and cannabis have been illegal in the United States since August 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed by Congress. In December 2018, Congress reversed course after 81 years of prohibition by enacting the Farm Bill, which legalized samples of the plant containing below the 0.3 percent THC standard employed in North America, which it defines as “hemp.” Europe features a stricter 0.2 percent THC limit, although this may change to 0.3 percent, in alignment with global market leaders such as the U.S. and Canada, in the near future.    

Both delta-9 and delta-8 THC are currently considered Schedule I drugs by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. This means that all regulatory oversight and legal restrictions placed on delta-9 THC also apply to delta-8. Some of the companies producing delta-8 products are doing so legally under the laws of their home state, but, just as with delta-9 products, in defiance of federal oversight. 

It must be emphasized that such companies remain legal only if they restrict sales of their product to within the borders of their home state. Any interstate commerce activity falls under the strict purview of federal authorities, including the DEA, and Schedule I status.   

Confusion regarding these relatively new laws surrounds many interpretations of the legal status of delta-8 THC and emerging products. Some parties believe that delta-8 derived from hemp (samples of the cannabis plant genome that feature <0.3 percent delta-9 THC) are a legal loophole that allow them to narrowly skirt any laws of prohibition at the state or federal level. 

“You have a drug that essentially gets you high, but is fully legal. The whole thing is comical,” said Lukas Gilkey, CEO of Hometown Hero CBD in Austin, Texas, during an interview with the New York Times

However, many legal authorities paint a different picture. “Dealing in any way with delta-8 THC is not without significant legal risk,” said Alex Buscher, a Colorado lawyer who specializes in cannabis law, during an interview for the New York Times article cited above.

Some companies have invested in production and multi-state marketing of delta-8 products. Unfortunately, they are doing so under the false belief that their formulations are categorized as hemp under the Farm Bill and, thus, legal.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Delta-8 and delta-9 THC fall under the identical categorization and carry the same enforcement mechanisms and penalties.     

Understanding Delta-8 THC

Regardless of the legal status of delta-8 THC, let’s compare and contrast the medicinal efficacy of both compounds. Despite its reputation for helping consumers unwind from a stressful day, delta-9 THC has a nasty reputation for causing the opposite when consumed in strong doses: Elevated anxiety, paranoia, and sometimes panic attacks. Disorientation, confusion, and other forms of distress resulting from too much delta-9 have been documented by hospital emergency rooms and psychologists for decades. 

Delta-8 THC has been reported, through both formal research and anecdotal testimony, to deliver roughly two-thirds of the psychoactivity of the delta-9 isomer, but without the paranoia. This provides an option for those who avoid delta-9 THC or cannabis overall due to a previous negative experience with the herb. 

That said, it should be noted that the potential for consumers, especially novices, to experience increased anxiety or paranoia when consuming any psychotropic substance, especially in potent doses, always exists. Doctors and wellness professionals should experiment over time and “start low and go slow” with the dosing of delta-8. Many consumers have reported positive experiences when consuming delta-8 THC, especially in comparison to delta-9. 

One distinct difference between these two analogs is their relative volumes in plant samples. Most modern cultivars and chemovars (“strains”) of cannabis have been bred to increase delta-9 THC levels (which typically range from 10 to 30 percent), not CBD or delta-8. As such, delta-8 THC is found in small quantities in natural plant samples (typically well under one percent, similar to CBG). Delta-8 is sometimes extracted and concentrated by complex processing equipment requiring specially trained technicians. More often, however, it is synthesized from molecules that feature similar molecular structures, such as CBD and delta-9 THC. 

Some doctors, including Dr. Benjamin Caplan (a clinical practitioner in Boston who recommends legal cannabis to his patients), are finding superior results with their patients when they mix the correct doses of delta-8 and delta-9. Some wellness professionals are employing such a formulation instead of the more traditional delta-9 and CBD mix. 

“While the combination of delta-8 and delta-9 often yields a less euphoric experience, it can be a very pleasant alternative to blends of delta-9 THC and CBD,” Caplan told me during an exclusive interview.

In addition to appetite stimulation, delta-8 THC delivers anxiety reduction, can help treat pain, has shown antioxidant efficacy, and is a powerful tool in the treatment of nausea. Caplan described delta-8 THC as a “fan favorite” among his patients. 

Delta-9 Tolerance Break Tool?

Some companies and caregivers have begun exploring the use of delta-8 THC as a tool to help daily users, especially heavy cannabis consumers, to lower their tolerance to delta-9 THC. Even slight improvements in the relative potency of delta-9 based on reduced tolerance can equal significant monetary savings for such large volume consumers. 

“It’s not uncommon for those who use delta-9 THC to find that efficacy wanes after a long period of consistent use,” said Dena Putnam, President and co-founder of Leafwize Naturals in Orange County, California. Leafwize Naturals sells a variety of vape cart products featuring the dominant ingredient of delta-8 THC.  

Putnam explained how the delta-8 isomer of THC “may offer a way to circumvent the body’s tolerance of delta-9 while delivering similar benefitsall while taking a break from delta-9 in an effort to bring back the full effectiveness” she explained during an exclusive interview. 

Putnam said that delta-9 THC tolerance breaks “can be scary for those who depend on it for daily pain relief and mood management,” but explained that it is “sometimes necessary to reset the effectiveness of the medicine.” She explained how “delta-8 may offer a way to take a delta-9 break while providing a level of medicinal relief that is similar to delta-9.”

When queried about the success of this approach, Putnam explained how she and her staff noted two positive outcomes from their experiment: Delta-8 efficacy that mirrored that of delta-9 and the overall goal of achieving a lowered tolerance for delta-9 THC. Both target outcomes were achieved, somewhat of a unicorn in the world of science-based health and wellness.      

“We found that, after a period of switching from delta-9 THC to delta-8, that delta-8 helped in a manner similar to delta-9,” said Putnam. “More important, when the user resumed consumption of delta-9, the effects were greater, as if they had taken a conventional tolerance break,” she added.

It’s a Wrap

Delta-8 THC, only one of several THC analogs that includes THCA, THCV, and THCP, offers a number of advantages over its sibling delta-9. From the perspective of medicinal efficacy, delta-8 provides 60-70 percent of the psychotropic (psychoactive) effects of delta-9 THC while, typically, delivering little or none of the paranoia and anxiety that may result from delta-9.

Medical practitioners and business entrepreneurs are beginning to recognize the advantages of a world in which phytocannabinoids beyond CBD and delta-9 THC are readily available in thousands of products from hundreds of companies. If businesses like Southern California’s Leafwize Naturals have anything to say about it, that world will be here sooner rather than later.   

Congressman Blumenauer Statement On Cannabis Reform Legislation Vote

The MORE Act would end the failed federal cannabis prohibition and ensure restorative justice

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, released this statement today, following the announcement that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives next week: 

“I’ve been working on this issue longer than any politician in America and can confidently say that the MORE Act is the most comprehensive federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history. Our vote to pass it next week will come after people in five very different states reaffirmed the strong bipartisan support to reform the failed cannabis prohibition. National support for federal cannabis legalization is at an all-time high and almost 99% of Americans will soon live in states with some form of legal cannabis. Congress must capitalize on this momentum and do our part to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against communities of color.” 

The historic vote – which is expected next week – will mark the first time that the House or the Senate has ever voted as a full chamber on legislation to end the federal cannabis prohibition since it went into effect following the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

In addition to decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, the MORE Act would also expunge federal marijuana convictions and reinvest in communities most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.     

Blumenauer Calls On Supreme Court To Review Historic Appeal Challenging The Constitutionality Of Federal Criminalization Of Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to review and proceed with hearing Washington v. Barr, the most significant and potentially consequential cannabis-related lawsuit ever to be filed.

The Court will consider the plaintiffs’ appeal at a conference on Friday, October 9, and if the Court accepts the appeal for consideration, it could pave the way to federal legalization of cannabis for the first time since 1937, providing relief to millions of Americans who treat with medical marijuana to maintain their health and lives. If the Court were to decline to hear the appeal, the case would be over for good, resigning another generation of medical marijuana patients and the state-legal cannabis industry – which has invested billions in the state-legal market – to further legal uncertainty.

“The fact that nearly 94 percent of Americans support legalizing medical cannabis and yet it remains illegal at the federal level is a national disgrace,” said Blumenauer. “Furthermore, the laws and subsequent court decisions on cannabis are a mangled patchwork of contradictions. This case is an important opportunity to fix our failed national cannabis laws.”

In July 2020, the plaintiffs in Washington v. Barr filed their appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the federal criminalization of medical marijuana. The case was filed on behalf of five plaintiffs, including former NFL player Marvin Washington, Iraq War Veteran Jose Belen, 15-year-old Alexis Bortell, nine-year-old Jagger Cotte and the Cannabis Cultural Association.

As acknowledged by the District Court in this case, Alexis, Jagger and Specialist Belen are patients whose lives have been saved by medical cannabis. As reflected in the Complaint, Marvin Washington is a cannabis entrepreneur whose business would otherwise be eligible for federal funding through the Minority Business Enterprise program, but for his participation in the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Cultural Association seeks economic parity and social justice for persons of color who have been unfairly singled out for prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act and unjustly excluded economically from the state-legal cannabis industry.

Blumenauer along with seven federal lawmakers submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff’s appeal. The case also has amicus brief support from 19 advocacy groups, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the International Cannabis Bar Association, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Last Prisoner Project, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and Americans For Safe Access.

Despite its legalization by 38 U.S. states and territories, cannabis is illegal at the federal level, creating insurmountable problems for patients around the country. Patients have lost their jobs, been expelled from colleges, and lost their professional licenses, even if state-legal jurisdictions, due to cannabis stigmatization wrought by federal prohibition.

While cannabis is also on the ballot in five states that will be voting on some form of cannabis legalization in November, adoption of legalization electorally on the state level will not solve the problems associated with federal prohibition. Rather, it would merely reinforce the absurdity of marijuana’s classification under Schedule I.

To read the full amicus brief filed on behalf of Blumenauer and his Congressional colleagues, click here.

DEA Announces Steps Necessary To Improve Access To Marijuana Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that it is moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States. The DEA is providing notice of pending applications from entities applying to be registered to manufacture marijuana for researchers. DEA anticipates that registering additional qualified marijuana growers will increase the variety of marijuana available for these purposes.

Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019. Similarly, in the last two years, DEA has more than doubled the production quota for marijuana each year based on increased usage projections for federally approved research projects.

“I am pleased that DEA is moving forward with its review of applications for those who seek to grow marijuana legally to support research,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services and across the Administration to improve research opportunities wherever we can.”

“DEA is making progress in the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.  “We support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”

This notice also announces that, as the result of a recent amendment to federal law, certain forms of cannabis no longer require DEA registration to grow or manufacture. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, changed the definition of marijuana to exclude “hemp”—plant material that contains 0.3 percent or less delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis. Accordingly, hemp, including hemp plants and cannabidiol (CBD) preparations at or below the 0.3 percent delta-9 THC threshold, is not a controlled substance, and a DEA registration is not required to grow or research it.

Before making decisions on these pending applications, DEA intends to propose new regulations that will govern the marijuana growers program for scientific and medical research. The new rules will help ensure DEA can evaluate the applications under the applicable legal standard and conform the program to relevant laws. To ensure transparency and public participation, this process will provide applicants and the general public with an opportunity to comment on the regulations that should govern the program of growing marijuana for scientific and medical research.

The Notice of Application is available here:

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday announced his resignation from the Justice Department.

Sessions was a longstanding, vocal opponent of marijuana policy reform, who once opined, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” As Attorney General, his office rescinded the 2013 Cole memorandum which directed prosecutors not to interfere in state-sanctioned marijuana activity. However, that action encouraged numerous members from both parties to strongly criticize the office, and eventually led to the introduction of The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 – bipartisan House and Senate legislation that seeks to protect jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana from federal intervention.

Sessions’ chief of staff Matt Whitaker will serve as acting Attorney General until a permanent appointment is confirmed.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Texas Medicine and Railroad Gin: Lessons From Prohibition

By Michael A. Stusser

The 18th Amendment revoked the sales and use of alcohol in the United States in 1919. Shocking as it may seem that such an act could become law, the roots of Prohibition were complex (people were drinking too damn much canned heat) – and misguided. The government created a campaign to scare Americans about liquor with propaganda that looks shockingly similar to another era of prohibition – the one launched against marijuana use. (Not surprisingly, Americans continued boozing it up – through home distilleries making moonshine, private speakeasies, and mob-led bootlegging.)

highergtv logo

We’re highlighting the shared journey of alcohol and cannabis prohibition – because they’re retroactively such hilarious images – and we can learn many lessons from these historical documents as we continue to fight for the legalization (and decriminalization) of weed. Laws attempting to legislate morality and ban items that are not evil or against public welfare have never worked – but Bless ‘Em for Trying!

Here’s a look at some of the ways both Prohibition and Reefer Madness were marketed to the masses

"Medicinal Whiksky" and "MJ Medicine"

“Medicinal Whiksky” and “MJ Medicine”

Before Prohibition (as with cannabis), alcohol was frequently touted to help with various ailments. Here is a bottle of bonded “medicinal whiskey” labelled “for Medicinal Purposes Only.” Cannabis, of course, has been helping with chronic pain, stress, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and much more for centuries.

AntiSaloon
An “Anti-Saloon League” was formed to promote prohibition. (The group became popular with many inside the government after passage of the income tax amendment in 1913 – as they were no longer dependent on booze to fund operations.) This is from their newspaper, The American Issue, from Jan. 25, 1919.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 13.54.26While women were major backers of the early Temperance Campaigns, they also rallied for Repeal of Prohibition. Women are, of course, also leading the legalization movement and many are CEOs of prominent cannabis companies and organizations.

TemperanceAbuse
As early as 1871, the campaign against spirits had begun. Here is a Temperance illustration of a drunk man hitting his wife. Much of the prohibition propaganda was sold as a way to protect women and children from boozing hubbies and fathers coming home wasted from work, drinking his paycheck away and raising hell and havoc.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 13.59.15

Straight to the Point. The bottle or your best girl!

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.03.05
Asking American to choose their country or their cocktail, posters like these advocated for Prohibition during World War I.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.06.39
A far cry from biblical verse (“Wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts”), firewater was eventually sold to the masses as dangerous, deadly rotgut.

ReeferMadnessMove
In 1936 the now infamous film Reefer Madness was released, warning Mom & Pops about the dangers of weed by showing a group of pot-smoking teenagers descending into a hellscape of murder, madness, suicide and violence after firing up a fatty. Yikes!

DavilsHarvest
Similar to the Prohibition propaganda attempting to scare wives about drunken husbands, this 1942 film used the Devil himself to put the fear of God into families.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.11.10
Like films such as Reefer Madness and Assassin of Youth, Marihuana attempted to scare the Bejesus out of the general public with absurd claims of cannabis leading to wild orgies (if only!), impregnation, heroin addiction and, yes, kidnapping. That’s some strong ganja!

prohibcelebration
PROHIBITION REPEALED! Oh Happy Day! By 1933, Americans had had more than enough prohibition, and public opposition had become overwhelming. First Congress passed an act legalizing beer and wine, and by December of 1933 Utah became the 36th State to ratify the 22nd Amendment – repealing the 18th (Prohibition) and restoring the sale and manufacture of alcohol.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.16.44And soon, we’ll have a National Celebration for the Legalization of Cannabis!

Author Michael Stusser is the host of Higher Ground, the World’s first talk show highlighting cannabis culture. Think of it as “The Daily Show” meets “Good Morning America”…but with a giant bong on the desk. For more on Higher Ground and host Michael Stusser, visit www.highergroundtv.com   or www.michaelstusser.com

Veterans Push For A Federal Study Of Hemp In Hopes Of Stemming Opioid Prescriptions At VA Facilities

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A group of United States Armed Forces Veterans descended on the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, April 17 to meet with members of the Cannabis Caucus and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Their request is an urgent call for change in medical treatment options for Veterans: stop the dependency on opioids and compel the Veterans’ Affairs Administration to study CBD derived from industrial hemp as a legal alternative to opioids, the go-to drug in masking a variety of medical conditions.

Steve Danyluk, who spearheaded the legislative meeting with Veterans, is retired from the Marine Corps Reserves. His last position was working wounded issues at Walter Reed and Bethesda. That is where he became very troubled by what he saw.

“I witnessed what I believe is a policy of overmedicating wounded service men and women with opiates and other toxic medications, which led me to establish Warfighter Hemp,” said Steve Danyluk, LtCol, USMCR (RET.) and founder Warfighter Hemp. “CBD derived from Industrial Hemp provides much of the relief that these Veterans seek, at a fraction of the cost, without the psychoactive side effects, making it an ideal alternative to the various psychotropic and toxic medications in the VA’s dispensary. We welcomed the opportunity to share our CBD stories with legislators.”

Danyluk, along with three Veterans from Minnesota and Virginia, met with Congressman Jared Polis (D) Colorado, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D) Oregon, and representatives from the offices of combat Veteran Congressman Moulton (D) Massachuetts, Congressman Don Young (R) Alaska, and Congressman Tim Walz (D) Minnesota. The group met individually with Congressman Brian Mast (R) Florida, himself a combat Veteran, along with an aide for Congressman Scott Peters (D) Ohio.

The group requested legislators sign a letter to Acting Secretary Robert Wilke, Department of Veterans Affairs, asking him to green light a study into CBD derived from Industrial Hemp.

 

 

The Congressional Record: Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act

[Pages S4669-S4672]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. BOOKER:
  S. 1689. A bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for 
a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marihuana, and for 
other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. BOOKER. Madam President, I rise to talk about the Marijuana 
Justice Act--a bill I introduced today that would end the Federal 
prohibition on marijuana and start to end the War on Drugs. For far too 
long we have approached drug use and addiction as something we can jail 
ourselves out of. It is beyond clear that approach has failed. It is 
time we start to address the persistent and systemic racial bias that 
has plagued our criminal justice system and adopt policies that will 
move us forward, not backward. It is time to de-schedule marijuana.
  Since 2001, arrests for marijuana have increased across the Country 
and now account for over 50 percent of all drug arrests in the United 
States. The ACLU conducted a thorough study of over 8 million marijuana 
arrests between 2001 and 2010. It found that 88 percent of those were 
for marijuana possession. Alarmingly, the study also found that African 
Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana 
possession than their white peers, even though they use marijuana at 
similar rates.
  Over the last five years, States have begun to legalize marijuana in 
an effort to push back on the failed War on Drugs and combat the 
illicit drug market. Currently, eight States and the District of 
Columbia have legalized marijuana and more States are taking up 
measures to follow suit. We know from the experiences of States that 
have already legalized marijuana that we will gain far more than we 
lose--these States have seen increased revenues and decreased rates of 
serious crime, and a reallocation of resources toward more productive 
uses. In Colorado, arrest rates have decreased and State revenues have 
increased. Washington saw a 10 percent decrease in violent crime over 
the three-year period following legalization.
  However, the Federal government still treats marijuana as an illegal 
substance. It is time for the Federal government to end the Federal 
prohibition of marijuana.
  Today, I introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that would 
remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, thereby ending 
the Federal prohibition. The bill would also automatically expunge 
records for people who were convicted of Federal marijuana use and 
possession offenses. We must help people with criminal records get back 
up on their feet and obtain jobs, and expunging their records is an 
important step in that process.
  The legislation would allow individuals currently serving time in 
Federal prison for marijuana offenses to petition a court for a 
resentencing. One of the greatest tragedies from the Fair Sentencing 
Act was that it did not provide retroactive relief to individuals 
serving time under the old crack and powder cocaine sentencing laws. 
The Marijuana Justice Act would allow people currently serving time for 
a marijuana offense to seek immediate relief.
  The bill would also use Federal funds to encourage States where 
marijuana is illegal to legalize the drug if they disproportionately 
arrest or incarcerate low income individuals or people

[[Page S4670]]

of color. Too often drug laws are enforced disproportionately against 
minorities and the poor. This is unacceptable and belies our values.
  Finally, the Marijuana Justice Act would establish a community 
reinvestment fund, which would invest money in communities most 
affected by the War on Drugs. Building new libraries, supporting job 
training, and investing in community centers will improve public safety 
and is the right thing to do after decades of failed drug policies.
  The Marijuana Justice Act is a serious step in acknowledging, that 
after 40 years, it is time to end the War on Drugs. It is time to stop 
our backward thinking, which has only led to backward results. It is 
time to lead with our hearts, our heads, and with policy that actually 
works.
                                 ______

Federal Marijuana Protections Extended Through April

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Members of Congress have re-authorized a federal provision prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering in state-authorized medical cannabis programs. The provision, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, was included in short-term spending legislation, House Resolution 2028, and will expire on April 28, 2017.

Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” In August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.

Because the provision is included as part of a Congressional spending package and does not explicitly amend the US Controlled Substances Act, members must re-authorize the amendment annually. However, House leadership may prohibit federal lawmakers from revisiting the issue when they craft a longer-term funding bill this spring. Such a change in House rules would require members of the Senate to pass an equivalent version of the legislation, which would then need to be approved by House leaders in conference committee.

DEA Hurts Growing Industry; Enacts Final Rule Seeking To Make Any Extract Of Cannabis Plant Schedule 1 Drug

By Bob Hoban, Managing Partner – Hoban Law Group

On December 13, 2016, the DEA issued its Final Rule, “Establishment of New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract,” which serves to potentially devastate developing businesses and consumer, textile and manufacturing industries related to cannabinoids. Robert Hoban, a cannabis, cannabinoid and hemp lawyer and expert as well as an adjunct professor of law at The University of Denver, states the DOJ and DEA cannot unilaterally make law and schedule controlled substances, thus causing this Final Rule to exceed the DEA’s authority. Instead, such actions require an act of Congress.

As is the case here, the DEA is an agency that has previously sought to exceed its authority contrary to applicable law. It is anticipated that this “final ruling” and determination will be challenged both in court and administratively across the country. With 28 states that already have medical cannabis laws on the books, 8 states passing adult use laws in the November election, and numerous other states enacting industrial hemp legislation, the industry is up for the challenge of litigation against any government agency that operates contrary to prevailing law and enforcement policies.

The DEA’s Final Rule seeks to broadly expand and override existing definitions of controlled substances by newly creating a “Marihuana Extract” classification. The effect of this Final Rule appears to be incorporation of any and all cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, despite the fact that many such cannabinoids are naturally occurring derived from non-“marihuana” portions of the plant or or from entirely different plants altogether. Problematically, the Final Rule fails to acknowledge there exist certain parts of the plant, and certain types of the plant — namely, industrial hemp — which cannot and should not be treated as a “Marihuana Extract.” Notably, the DEA has sought to unilaterally create laws before, and has lost, when challenged.

Hoban surmises, “The feeling is that this is an action beyond the DEA’s authority and we believe this is unlawful and we are taking a course of action for our clients. This Final Rule serves to threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of growing businesses, with massive economic and industry expansion opportunities, all of which conduct lawful business in reliance upon the Federal Government also acting pursuant to law, and as ordered by the Ninth Circuit in 2003 and 2004. We will see the Federal Government in court.”