Report: THC Limits Not Correlated To Driving Impairment
Lansing, MI: The presence of THC in blood is not correlated with driving performance and is not a reliable indicator of psychomotor impairment, according to recommendations made by a state-appointed traffic safety task force.
A report issued by the Michigan Impaired Driving Safety Commission finds that peak THC blood levels are not associated with maximal behavioral impairment and further finds that the compound's influence upon driving performance varies significantly among individual consumers. As a result, "The Commission recommends against the establishment of a threshold of delta-9-THC bodily content for determining driving impairment and instead recommends the use of roadside sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is impaired."
The Commission's recommendations are similar to those previously issued by the American Automobile Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other traffic safety experts who have similarly opined against the imposition of per se thresholds for the presence of THC. NORML similarly argues that the identification of THC in blood is a poor predictor of either recent cannabis exposure or impaired performance.
The Commission's report further opines that subjects influenced by cannabis "typically drive slower, keep greater following distances, and take fewer risks than when sober." They add, "While there is some uncertainty as to the crash risk associated with cannabis impairment alone, the research is clear that the risk is lower than that of alcohol impairment."
Five states -- Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington -- impose various per se limits for the detection of specific amounts of THC in blood while eleven states (Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin) impose zero tolerant per se standards. In those states, it is a criminal violation of the traffic safety laws to operate a motor vehicle with detectable levels of THC in blood. Colorado law infers driver impairment in instances where THC is detected inblood at levels of 5ng/ml or higher.
Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, "Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance."
Georgia: Lawmakers Advance Bill To Regulate Low-THC Oil Production
Atlanta, GA: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation, House Bill 324, to regulate the production and dispensing of low-THC oil extracts to qualified patients. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has stated that he intends to sign the bill into law.
The measure amends existing law to provide for the licensed in-state "production, manufacturing, and dispensing" of products possessing specified quantities of plant-derived THC. Under the law, low-THC formulations may include oils (in quantities not to exceed 20 fluid ounces), tinctures, or capsules, but may not include THC-infused foods. Commercial cultivation and production licenses may be provided to both private entities and universities. Qualified patients will be required to possess a state-issued registration card in order to legally access low-THC products.
The measure creates a 'Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission' to establish rules governing the licensed distribution of approved THC products.
The legislation resolves, "Low THC oil can offer significant medical benefits to patients."
Under existing law, qualified patients are exempt from criminal prosecution for the possession of oil extracts containing not more than 5 percent THC and an amount of CBD equal to or greater than the amount of THC. Over 8,000 patients are currently registered with the state to possess medical cannabis products.
FDA Seeking Public Comments Regarding Prospective CBD Marketing Rules
Silver Spring, MD: The US Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a public hearing to address issues surrounding the "safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale" of products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD.
Outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that the public meeting will take place on May 31st at the agency's White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, MD. The agency is also accepting public comments on the issue, which may be submitted through July 2, 2019.
Speaking before Congress on multiple occasions, Gottlieb has stated that it may take "years" for the agency to establish rules and regulations governing the marketing of hemp-derived cannabinoid products. He further expressed concerns about the prospect of chain retailers like CVS and Walgreens carrying certain CBD-infused products, such as topical lotions and sprays, on their shelves.
In December, Congress enacted legislation removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The following day, the FDA stated: "Congress explicitly preserved the agency's current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act." The agency further opined, "[I]t's unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived."
The agency continues to selectively target manufacturers who it believes are marketing CBD-infused products in a manner that violates the agency's interpretation of the law.
Public comments on this issue may be submitted electronically to the FDA. The FDA Questions and Answer page: 'Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabinoid-Derived Products' is online.
New Mexico: Governor Signs Laws Expanding Legal Protections For Cannabis Patients
Albuquerque, NM: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a pair of bills into law last week amending the state's medical cannabis program to expand patients' access to the plant and to provide additional legal protections.
Senate Bill 406 expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states' medical cannabis programs.
Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and procedures for the storage and administration of certain medical cannabis products to students in school settings.
The bills mark the first significant amendments to the state's medical cannabis law, which had been opposed by the previous governor, Republican Susana Martinez.
Utah: Governor Signs Law Automating Expungement Procedures For Low-Level Crimes
Salt Lake City: Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has signed legislation into law amending the state's expungement laws.
House Bill 431, The 'Clean Slate' Act, creates a process for the automatic expungement and deletion of certain criminal convictions, including misdemeanor convictions for the possession of a controlled substance.
To be eligible for automatic expungement, one must have completed their sentence and possess no subsequent convictions for a period of five years.
According to reporting by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah will become only the second state in the nation to enact such a broad automatic expungement policy.
The new law takes effect on May 1, 2020.
Colorado: Governor Signs Legislation Permitting Medical Cannabis For Autism
Denver, CO: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation, House Bill 1028, expanding the pool of patients qualified to access medical cannabis to include those with autism spectrum disorder. The measure also mandates the state Board of Health to prioritize grant funding to study the use of cannabis for autism and other pediatric conditions.
Recent clinical trial data -- such as those here, here, and here -- report that the adjunctive use of cannabidiol is associated with reduced ASD symptoms and is well-tolerated among patients.
New Mexico Passes Expungement Legislation
Albuquerque, NM: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation into law allowing for those with a variety of past criminal convictions to petition to have their records expunged.
House Bill 370, The Criminal Record Expungement Act, permits those convicted of certain violations, misdemeanors, or felonies -- following the completion of their sentence and payment of applicable fines -- to petition the court for an order to expunge arrest records and public records related to that conviction. Those seeking to vacate misdemeanor convictions must wait two years following the completion of their sentence, and have no subsequent convictions, prior to seeking expungement. Those with felony convictions must wait six-years prior to petitioning the court.
After a hearing on the petition, the court shall issue a ruling within 30 days.