There was a flurry of reaction, most of it in support, when President Joseph Biden recently issued a directive instructing the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to carry out a thorough medical as well as scientific review assessing the appropriateness of the current classification of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In that law, marijuana is categorized in the same highly restricted group with heroin, cocaine and LSD (ecstasy). As the dust settles and the real work gets underway, it will become abundantly clear how much of a catch-22 the review represents.
Given that marijuana has been prohibited for decades and listed as a substance with no known medical application in the United States and has a high likelihood of being abused, scientific inquiry into the potential therapeutic uses and possible side effects is limited. This is a significant problem, because a medical and scientific review at the level desired by the president can only accept impeccable scientific research as the basis for any conclusions or recommendations that may be made at the end of the review process. The review needs scientific data, but that data is most likely unavailable on the required scale because of the Schedule 1 status of marijuana.
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recognized this challenge when she observed that she wouldn’t personally get involved in studying marijuana because of the numerous hoops that scientists have to navigate in order to get their proposed studies approved by different entities such as the DEA. She has promised to look for mechanisms through which marijuana research can be conducted under the existing legal framework.
That said, a review of the scale ordered by Biden is likely to take years, and there is no certainty as to what outcome the process will yield. Some advocates want the substance rescheduled, which would make marijuana a medical product controlled like other medicines, or descheduled, which would make marijuana a legal commodity, as is tobacco or alcohol. The review process can also maintain the status quo, which was the conclusion reached after a review that was completed back in 2015.
For now, industry and various actors such as Prime Harvest Inc. may regard a legislative approach to marijuana policy reform as the one with a higher probability of codifying the needed changes to the current prohibitive policies of the federal government. This may be more likely as pressure from the grassroots to end prohibition is mounting as more states open their own marijuana markets and isolate the federal government with its prohibitionist stance.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Prime Harvest Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/PRIME
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