Roll Up for Cannabis Equity – a New Monthly Column

by on June 27, 2023 · 0 comments

in Health, San Diego

By Terrie Best

The US president does not like cannabis. In fact, I am told by DC lobbyists that he hates it. He does not want to be the president that reschedules the plant – which I’m sure but can’t prove – he once called the devil’s lettuce. Yet Biden will likely go down in history as the one who at least moved the ball.

Terrie Best

The federal ball has been all but frozen since the Controlled Substance Act placed cannabis in Schedule I with no medicinal value. Getting it into one of the other four places in the CSA has proven to be impossible, with agencies such as the FDA and DEA wholeheartedly dug into the drug war.

The details of federal reconsideration of cannabis policy are paramount. Rescheduling is fraught with significant problems. The general consensus among advocates is to de-schedule the plant because of the damage the war against it has done to citizens and also due to the benign nature of it.

Still, to de-schedule would be to cull from consideration the millions of Americans who use cannabis as medicine, leaving them no pathway to insurance coverage for cannabis products.

Is there a way forward that nullifies law enforcement’s weapon against cannabis-using citizens and creates equity for people who want to use natural medicines through their health insurance?

Right now, low income and impoverished people have very little hope of maintaining consistent cannabis therapy by paying out of pocket. The inequities in cannabis medicine are staggering.

In the collective effort to stop the drug war madness and treat cannabis like alcohol we forgot it is not a vice like alcohol — it is a medicine. For some it is so important it allows them to carry their children in their arms, drive a car, hold a job or live without seizures.

Perhaps a brand-new approach to plant medicine on the federal level is warranted. And that’s where Shelby Huffaker, MPH comes in. Shelby recently graduated from UCSD and is leading a local campaign of awareness for the recently unveiled Federal Guidance on Medical Cannabis & Cannabinoid Act of 2023. She is also the recently added Co–Chair of the local Americans for Safe Access Chapter.

Shelby spent the last few years studying drug policy. She’s worked at the federal level to learn and then advise local changemakers on safe and equitable federal policy. Having grown up in San Diego, she will use her knowledge to rally local support for federal change aimed at the 118th Congress.

Keeping cannabis in schedule I of the Control Substances Act, where chemicals like heroin reside, makes little sense without a new approach that can take on natural products.

The FDA regulates medicine but they are not equipped to regulate plants. Their jam is single molecule substances and they know it. That’s why a new agency is being proposed by advocates like Shelby to accommodate a brand-new schedule adding on to the current five.

The guidance proposed would have two major functions: reschedule cannabis to the newly created schedule VI and create an Office of Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoid Control. The OMCCC would operate under the Department of Health and Human Services, facilitate access, research and regulate the production of medical cannabis and perhaps the many other natural products that are coming, currently in regulatory limbo and even on shelves already.

Disarming the war on cannabis and creating more equity for sick people who use it to feel better is long overdue and maybe with the new agency designed to actually regulate natural products we can have it all: end the federal war on recreational cannabis and create an avenue for research and better yet, insurance coverage for patients.

To read a comprehensive report on the OMCCC program being proposed please click here.

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