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Federal Momentum Continues Toward Cannabis Edibles

Movement on cannabis is continuing in various sectors of the federal government – albeit slowly but surely. Three actions are of particular note in the U.S.: the Senate’s bipartisan Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, the House’s reintroduction of the MORE Act; and the DEA’s opening the door to more research companies. While none may (yet) be of significant impact, together they show that national cannabis legalization is making some headway.

To touch on each of these:

  • Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act. Introduced in the Senate May 19, the bill focuses on allowing CBD in food and dietary supplements, essentially removing CBD from the drug exclusion rule provisions of the FD&C by inserting “(other than hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol, or a substance containing any other ingredient derived from hemp)” to section 21 USC 331(II). The bill also gives Health and Human Services the responsibility of establishing labeling and packaging requirements for hemp/hemp derivatives in dietary supplements and food.
  • Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act). In late May, the 2020 More ACT was reintroduced in the House. The revised act would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act; applying retroactively to prior and pending convictions and enabling states to set their own policy. It also would require federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allow prior offenders to request expungement, and require courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision. And it authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund. However, with the former version already having been defeated in the Senate, we don’t see this House bill as gaining much traction.
  • DEA Prioritize Efforts to Expand Access to Marijuana for Research. Although scientists have been allowed to conduct limited research on cannabis, sourcing has been restricted to a single approved supplier. In December 2020, the DEA finalized new regulations allowing for additional bulk manufacturers to be registered to grow marijuana for research purposes. Applicants must demonstrate they have met various requirements, including appropriate state authority, document that their customers are licensed to perform research, and employment of adequate safeguards to prevent diversion. On May 21, the DEA took a further step toward increasing the opportunities for medical and scientific research by issuing Memorandums of Agreement to a number of manufacturers whose applications were approved. Pending finalization, the DEA anticipates issuing registrations to these manufacturers who will then be authorized to cultivate marijuana – up to its allotted quota – in support of the more than 575 DEA-licensed researchers across the nation.

While all of these still have pending aspects, we see this federal focus as reflecting a positive outlook for the furthering of the national legalization of cannabis products and their use in foods and dietary supplements. How quickly is always in question, but forward momentum is continuing.

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