Medical Cannabis Stakeholders: Buck up, It is Time for Act II!

Almost every conversation I have had in 2023 with medical cannabis stakeholders has been full of doom and gloom. Advocates are discouraged, businesses are frustrated, patients are disheartened, and frankly I am getting a little tired of it!

The reason things feel stagnate is because maybe you forgot there has always been a plan for Act II in this journey and Act I has played its course.

Policies, like patients, get infected if they stay in triage for too long.

After 25 years of the states experimenting with cannabis policy at the state level, there is no denying that the national acceptance of cannabis has changed. If you don’t remember, or maybe you don’t’ know the history, we first crafted state access programs to serve as a form of triage to get patients off the battlefield of the war on drugs while we worked to remove barriers communicated to us by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and federal representatives. Similarly, the Medical Cannabis amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) budget we first passed in 2014 was meant to be a triage measure to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) threats of state employees, raids and prosecutions while Congress dealt with federal medical cannabis. 

And we have done it! We have completed Act I.

So, let me set the scene for you for Act II!

Today federal policymakers no longer have to worry that a federal medical cannabis program will put the U.S. at odds with international drug treaties because we helped the UN reclassified cannabis recognizing its medical benefits. Myths about cannabis being a gateway drug or creating psychosis have been debunked. Robust product safety protocols have been created in states that have been guided by the 2011 American Herbal Products Association recommendations for regulators on product safety protocols and the 2013 American Herbal Pharmacopeia cannabis monograph.

All but 2 states in the U.S. and most of the U.S. territories have passed laws creating some kind of access to cannabis products, support for medical cannabis remains at an all-time high and there are currently over 6 million legal patients in the U.S.

There is bi-partisan support for medical cannabis in Congress, in fact, the 117th Session of Congress not only passed the Medical Cannabis amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations bill twice, they also passed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Act. The President of the United States agrees with us; sure, he used the term marijuana instead of cannabis, but POTUS doesn’t think anyone should go to jail for cannabis and he agrees that cannabis doesn’t belong in Schedule I. And to dust off a quote from the man himself “this is a big f’n deal”.

Every Federal Agency is pointing to congress for a solution too. Just this week the FDA called on Congress to find a new way to regulate CBD and other cannabinoids.

And the best part of Act II, is that we have been preparing for this moment for over 20 years and we are ready!

Think about it, the only cannabis bill introduced last session that actually passed was the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Act. All the other bills, that did not pass, were not about medical cannabis. From the SAFE Banking Act to the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, to the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) and the Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulatory Environment (PREPARE) Act there is a glaring omission of patients and policies to advance medical cannabis.  We also know from 10 years of state experiments that recreational/adult use laws don’t work for patients.

So don’t believe the hype about what is possible on Capitol Hill in the 118th session. Congress isn’t ready to move forward with recreational/adult use but they are ready for Medical Cannabis Policy, we just have to ask!

Intermission is over, put down the popcorn, suit up and let’s start Act II!

Here is what we do:

  1. Put some gas in ASA’s gas tank.
  2. Write your member of Congress and let them know you are behind them on medical cannabis.
  3. Tell everyone to stop whining and take their seats for Act II!

So, shake off that doom and gloom, recalculate your expectations, and let’s get this done!

Safe Access for All is not a slogan; it’s a battle cry and it is not Negotiable!

I’m in it for the final curtain call, who’s with me!?