_By Andrea Fasoli
"The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act comes back to life"
Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Al Franken (D-Minnesota) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas) joined forces to bring back a piece of legislation that can potentially bring monumental change on the hill!
The Cannabis Caucus was one of the first important signals of a political paradigm shift in D.C. and the reintroduction of the CARERS Act is yet another important statement that our legislators have finally come around the reefer madness and starting to embrace Cannabis as the needed revolution in this country and the world at large.
The CARERS Act was first introduced by Sen. Cory Brooker in 2015 and much has changed in our society when it comes to the topic of Cannabis since 2 years ago. The industry has grown to such an extent that it can no longer be ignored by the skeptics and prohibitionists; soon Cannabis will become a normal aspect of our daily lives as it was and always meant to be. Nonetheless it is important to steer clear from the initial excitment, overall histerya and noise, in order to focus more on the facts and understand the fine print of this revamped bill. This legislation is broken down in various components, tackling diverse aspects of the Cannabis topic:
- Moving Marijuana from a Schedule I narcotic to Shedule II.
- Excludes "cannabidiol" (aka CBD) from the definition of "marijuana" and defines it separately as the substance cannabidiol.
- Prohibits financial institutions from denying services to businesses in the Cannabis industry.
- Allows the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue at least three licenses under CSA registration requirements; to manufacture marijuana and marijuana-derivatives for research approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
For every marijuana activist out there, it is a well known fact that when true change manifests it will always be met by heavy resistance; unless a certain entity or group of individuals benefit from it. Talking about one of the biggest societal shifts of the 21st century, many of us have come to learn that through determination, proper messaging and good old persistence much can be achieved! With that being said an effective implementation of policies has to be gradually built for people to get used to it and not feel threatened or worried by the fast pace of change. That's why baby steps are a crucial aspect of the political evolution of reforms in regards to the marijuana laws' realm.
It is important to move forward and always support positive changes in the reform of marijuana laws, whike equally important is the ability to pay close attention to the language of an introduced bill and evaluate whether the proposed legislation will benefit society at large or big business as usual. Looking back at the 4 bullet points provided, briefly describing some of the most important aspects of the CARERS Act, point 1 & 4 should raise some initial warnings when it comes to keeping the integrity of the Cannabis industry and the long term viability of a vibrant and competitive market!
We have already seen monopolies belonging to certain industries take over control of a natural resource and virtually own the supply, thus put consumers in a tight spot and offer very little choice. Placing marijuana on the Schedule II, from Schedule I incentivizes yet again unnecessarily strict control over the so called "narcotic" and from what the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 clearly shows, Schedule II narcotics are recognized as such:
- Having a high potential for abuse.
- Possesses currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
- Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
None of the statements above are true when trying to represent the Cannabis Sativa specie nor all of its byproducts containing the psychoactive substance know as THC. Cannabis Sativa as a specie of plants and all of its byproducts should be rescheduled at least to level III of the Controlled Substance Act, with:
- The drug has a potential for abuse less than the drugs in schedules 1 and 2. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
The troublesome aspect of the current bill is the shift of Scheduling, accompanied by a restrictive access to licensing, controlled by the DEA, which would facilitate pharmaceutical companies to potentially take over the growing sector of the industry and therefore control the supply for the rest of the market. For now this is just a presumptive speculation, though history has an ironic way of repeating itself when the citizenry does not pay attention to the macro events that will affect all of us in the long term. Follow the money and always be ware of the greater entities that will constantly seek to centralize power and will stop at nothing to persuade public officials to manipulate the political process in their favor. Freedom fighters stay vigilant!