When Congress held its first congressional hearing on Cannabis this month, it was an unexpected and groundbreaking event I had not allowed myself to dream would happen in my lifetime. The purpose of the 3.5-hour hearing was to examine the pressing need for medical research to provide better education for an understanding of chemical compounds in cannabis and CBD from hemp.
Let’s take this opportunity to review how we find ourselves in a situation where states are deciding on allowing use both medically and recreationally before the national government is sanctioning its use.
- President Nixon listed cannabis into Schedule I, along with other drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. Once put into this category, it means it was decided they have no medical value and have a high potential for abuse so these substances must be highly controlled.
- Schedule I means A scientist must receive approval from all three departments, DEA, FDA, and NIH for research. This makes a very lengthy process.
- Scientists may only use the cannabis being grown at the University of Mississippi
- Cannabis being grown at this university is lacking commercial growing quality and potency so many believe this government-sanctioned and grown cannabis is not capable of providing legitimate research data and thus real facts.
- The country is caught in a Catch 22 – there is a need to show the facts for medical and recreational use, but this cannot be demonstrated without the essential research
- The government enacted the Farm Bill in Dec 2018, opening the gates for hemp CBD to be grown and used but did not include regulations about use, dosage, and other safety information
- So, there are many companies now producing and selling CBD products from creams, pills, edibles, hair products, etc. with no regulations and standards.
- People are purchasing CBD products from hemp dreaming for positive results advertised but with no knowledge of the high prices they are paying actual can guarantee what is being claimed.
- CBD can cause drug interactions but is anyone warning the public of this?
- Some companies have been sent warning letters of false advertising claiming unproven cures and solutions that may not be real.
- Thirty-three states now have approved various renditions of medical use and eleven states and the District of Columbia have also added recreational use.
- Approximately 44 million patients used cannabis last year, according to the Department of Health
- There are six bills being considered presently –
H.R. 171, the “Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marihuana Act” or the “LUMMA”
H.R. 601, the “Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019”
H.R. 1151, the “Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act”
H.R. 2843, the “Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act”
H.R. 3797, the “Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019”
H.R. 3884, the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019” or the “MORE Act of 2019”
Concerns that need to be clarified for us all:
- How does cannabis affect a pregnant woman and the fetus?
- THC varies from plant to plant and state to state – we have no consistency
- Concerns with quality and control of cannabis and hemp CBD on the market
- FDA states it could take 3-5 years to study and report on CBD, but it is already flooding the market in so many forms.
- In some states, people are still getting unjustly incarcerated, denied housing, jobs, and student loans, to name a few examples, by using cannabis.
- The decision one makes to consider using hemp CBD or cannabis should be driven by data that isn’t easy to accomplish thanks to scheduling I and only one source for use
- Legal states work with little to no date for their programs so arbitrary products are on the market
- Is it shown through research that children using cannabis for recreational use are lowering their academic function?
- Is it accurate that children are at risk of addiction and even possible psychosis?
- How do we identify is cannabis is responsible for driving accidents and if so, what could be the strategies used to be able to accurately determine this?
The witnesses for the Hearing:
Matthew J. Strait
Senior Policy Advisor, Diversion Control Division
Drug Enforcement Administration
Douglas Throckmorton, M.D.
Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration
Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health
Clear Agreement by All:
- Cannabis shows promise for the therapeutic potential for pain, neurological disorders like seizures and nausea
- Due to this finding, in 2018, the FDA approved Eppidoix, for those two and older for specific seizures.
- All agreed we owe to society to research both cannabis and CBD to obtain the correct facts to the public
There is going to be a second hearing conducted that has not been announced. It is wonderful to see we are finally having this conversation in our country and working towards ways to research in a timely manner. The public needs to be making educated decisions!
May life be kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell! I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of the National Pain Report.
Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/