DEA Set To Act Imminently On Five-Year-Old Rescheduling Petition
Washington, DC: The US Drug Enforcement Administration is prepared to respond in the coming months to an administrative petition calling for the reclassification of marijuana as a schedule I prohibited substance.
Replying to a July 2015 inquiry by US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and seven other senators, representatives from the DEA acknowledged that they intend to respond to a five-year-old rescheduling petition, filed by then Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, by this July. The petition, filed in 2011, calls on the agency to initiate proceedings to reclassify cannabis from schedule I of the US Controlled Substances Act to schedule II.
The DEA last decided on a similar rescheduling petition in 2011. The agency rejected that petition, alleging, "At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy."
In recent years, NORML has advocated in favor of removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as is already the case with alcohol and tobacco, rather than moving the plant to another schedule.
According to the DEA's letter, a number of federal agencies are also separately considering whether to reclassify the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) under federal law. "NIDA and FDA have been working to complete an extensive literature review of human and animal studies that have evaluated CBD," the agency wrote. "However, the FDA has indicated that a human abuse liability study may be necessary to make a final assessment on [its] abuse potential."
Sixteen states now explicitly permit by statute the possession of CBD by qualified patients.
Study: Frequent Cannabis Use Protective Against Metabolic Syndrome
Perth, Australia: Frequent cannabis use is associated with significantly lower odds of metabolic syndrome, according to findings published in the journal Psychological Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, which are linked to increased risk of heart disease and adult onset diabetes, among other serious health consequences.
Australian researchers assessed the association between cannabis use and metabolic syndrome in a nationally representative random sampling of 1,813 subjects. Metabolic syndrome was identified in 63 percent of non-users (defined as no cannabis use over the past year) compared to only 43.5 percent of frequent users (defined as having used cannabis at least once per week for 52 weeks).
Authors concluded: "Participants who reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months were significantly less likely than non-users to have the metabolic syndrome. This association remained significant for frequent users ... after adjustment for a range of potential confounders, including lifestyle ... and sociodemographic characteristics. ... [T]hese data suggest that (cannabis) may ... have a cardiometabolic protective effect."
A 2015 assessment of US cannabis consumers and non-users published in The American Journal of Medicine previously reported that those who consume cannabis are 50 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome as compared to those who do not. The findings are consistent with those of previous observational studies showing an inverse relationship between cannabis use and diabetic markers, and support population data documenting that those who use cannabis typically posses smaller waist circumference and lower body mass index as compared to abstainers.
Full text of the study, "Metabolic syndrome in people with a psychotic illness: is cannabis protective," appears in Psychological Medicine.
Virginia: Governor Signs Bill To Regulate CBD Oil Production
Richmond, VA: Governor Terry McAuliff has signed legislation, Senate Bill 701, to establish regulations governing the in-state production of therapeutic oils high in cannabidiol (CBD) and/or THC-A (THC acid).
Under a 2015 state law, qualifying patients are provided an affirmative medical defense if they possess cannabis plant extracts that contain at least 15 percent cannabidiol, and no more than five percent tetrahydrocannabinol. However, the law provides no legal source for these products and, as a result, it has largely failed to meet the needs of patients.
Senate Bill 701 requires the state Board of Pharmacy to adopt regulations establishing health, safety, and security requirements for pharmaceutical processors of oils high in CBD and/or THC-A.
Laws in more than a dozen states explicitly exempt criminal prosecution for qualified patients who possess CBD extracts. However, only three of these states - Florida, Missouri, and Texas - provide statutory language regulating the in-state production of these products. This week, regulators at the Missouri Department of Agriculture granted licenses to two applicants seeking to grow CBD-dominant cannabis. Their products are anticipated to be ready for distribution this fall to state-qualified patients.