Cannabis news briefs: STATES Act filed in Congress, FDA seeks input on CBD, SAFE Banking Act advances, and more
A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate introduced The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act on Thursday. If the measure passes, it will amend the Controlled Substances Act to protect state-level legal cannabis operations from federal intervention.
The bill was filed in the house by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and David Joyce (R-OH), and in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Joining the two for the announcement were cosponsors Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO).
In an interview with Marijuana Moment, Blumenauer said, “I’ve been working on this for four decades. I could not be more excited,” calling the STATES Act, “a landmark” in federal cannabis reform. Last year, President Trump implied that he’d be likely to sign the bill
FDA to hold a public hearing on the safety of CBD
The Food and Drug Administration finally showed signs on Tuesday that it will be giving serious consideration to the possibility of clearing a path for the use of CBD in foods. In an official notice posted Tuesday in the Federal Register, the agency said it will be hosting a public hearing on the topic May 31, at which it will be collecting intelligence on CBD's safety to be utilized in preparing regulations related to the manufacturing, marketing, and labeling of CBD-infused foods and beverages.
The notice read, in part, “While the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including hemp and hemp-derived products, has increased dramatically in recent years, questions remain regarding the safety considerations raised by the widespread use of these products. These questions could impact the approaches we consider taking in regulating the development and marketing of products.”
According to the statement, the FDA has formed an internal working group tasked with exploring “potential pathways for dietary supplements and/or conventional foods containing CBD to be lawfully marketed".
The agency is asking for public feedback related to health and safety risks, manufacturing and product quality, and the way in which products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds are marketed and sold, with the public comment period is open through July 2.
This past Wednesday, outgoing FDA head Scott Gottlieb testified at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing where he discussed the agency’s “risk-based approach” to enforcing current CBD regulations. He said developing a regulatory model may take years to complete.
Congressional committee moves marijuana banking bill forward
The House Financial Services Committee approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, a bipartisan bill that will allow state-licensed cannabis businesses to access banking and financial services, by a vote of 45 to 15. It marked the first time a bill pertaining to cannabis-banking was approved by a congressional committee.
Introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter in early March, the bill received bipartisan support and boasts 108 original cosponsors. More than one-third of the House of Representatives has signed on as cosponsors.
Should the measure be signed into law, it would allow financial institutions to provide services to licensed marijuana businesses without having to fear interference from federal regulators. While some cannabis businesses have been able to find banking services, most banks are unwilling to deal with the cannabis cash-only businesses for fear of federal prosecution.
Federal Reserve Bank presidents call for marijuana banking clarity
Three Federal Reserve Bank presidents have called for clarity on rules for providing financial services to the marijuana industry.
“For better or for worse, we’re responsible to follow federal law, and so we would very much like to have clarification on this," said Tom Barkin, CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. "Whatever legislative answer gets us to clarity would be our preferred outcome.”
Hawaii’s legislature passed a measure on Friday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana as well as another bill that could add criminal penalties for driving under the influence of a host of new substances. While both measures have cleared committee hearings, they still face floor votes in the House and Senate.
Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero signed the Cannabis Industry Act of 2019 into law. The measure establishes a framework for the creation of a cannabis industry. According to a report in “The Guam Daily Post”, it could be a year or longer before marijuana products are available for purchase. The governor must appoint nine members to a Cannabis Control Board. Thereafter, the governor has up to a year to develop rules and regulations that can be turned into a piece of legislation which will be subject to a public hearing. The bill must then be approved by lawmakers before being sent on to the governor for final approval.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. The bill, which eliminates jail time in favor of a $50 fine, takes effect on July 1, 2019. Subsequent offenses, or the possession of greater than one-half ounce of marijuana could still result in jail time. Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016, according to NORML’s report.
New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to legalize recreational marijuana. However, Governor Sununu’s threat to veto the bill may stand, as support appears to be waning for an override, which requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
A placeholder bill has been introduced in the Illinois State Senate, which would, once amended to include actual language, propose to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. In its final state, the bill is expected to allow people 21 and older to possess a little more than an ounce of pot and might add an additional three licenses to state’s existing medical marijuana program. Learn more here.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation into law to allow those with certain misdemeanor cannabis convictions to have their records automatically expunged.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis proposed a bill to add autism as a medical cannabis qualifying condition, and Gov. Janet Mills of Maine signed a bill to allow the production and retail sale of hemp-derived CBD products.
The governors of South Carolina and North Dakota both signed industrial hemp production legislation into law.
Two-hundred and sixty three cannabis users
According to research by New Frontier Data, 263 million people claimed to have used cannabis in the past year, with 15.1 percent of those coming from North America alone. In total, 6 percent of the world's population between the ages of 15 and 65 used cannabis in the past year.