What About Marijuana Medical Research?!

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Notably, according to an August 2018 filing in the Federal Register (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/23/2018-18265/proposed-adjustments-to-the-aggregate-production-quotas-for-schedule-i-and-ii-controlled-substances), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is seeking to more than quintuple the amount of marijuana that can legally be grown in the U.S. for medical research purposes—from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds in 2019. At the same time, the DEA is also seeking to curtail the total number of opioids manufactured in the country.

Most Americans are unaware that, since 1968, a farm maintained by the University of Mississippi has monopolized the production of marijuana that can legally be used for research in America. Scientists and members of the medical research community have frequently and fervently complained that approvals to conduct research are difficult to obtain, and that the Mississippi farm’s marijuana product they are forced to use is of such poor quality that it alters and hampers results yielded from their research studies.

In response to these complaints, several years ago the DEA moved to end the Mississippi farm’s production monopoly and create a process for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to license additional cultivators. Since then, well over two dozen facilities have filed proposals for licenses to legally grow marijuana for medical research, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department repeatedly blocked the DEA from acting on these applications. With Jeff Sessions out now, one can hope that these applications will be reviewed and that many will be granted, so that high grade cannabis will be available to the scientific and medical communities for research.

The DEA’s significant increase in marijuana production quotas for 2019 could signal that the agency believes some of these additional grower applications will now be reviewed and approved. If so, perhaps it will encourage scientists and the medical community to conduct more research studies targeting the medicinal uses of cannabis.



Cannabis Law

HEMP & CBD: Do’s and Don’ts before Congress Passes the 2018 Farm Bill

By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Contrary to popular belief, technically under the 2014 Farm Bill, CBD products are federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—a little recognized fact and a status that, in practice, is seldom enforced now. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has consistently taken the position that commercial activity concerning industrial hemp and CBD derived from it is impermissible under the 2014 Farm Bill. However, the 2018 Farm Bill should render the DEA’s current position untenable.  

A brief background is necessary to fully understand the current status of CBD products under federal law and what the 2018 Farm Bill will do to change this status.

All CBD products contain THC, but those derived from the industrial hemp plant (a cannabis cousin to marijuana), generally contain less than 0.03%. In practice, most states turn a blind eye to such products; thus, the proliferation of CBD shops nationwide. With the anticipated passage by Congress of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD will be legal under the CSA, which currently defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L – and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin,” thus including marijuana and industrial hemp within the definition, as both plants fall under the umbrella of “cannabis.” However, there are new protections for hemp-derived CBD in the 800-page 2018 Farm Bill, which Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) symbolically signed with a pen made from hemp.

It is appropriate to include such protections for hemp-derived CBD in the 2018 Farm Bill, given that industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity. At least three early American presidents grew it, and it was widely cultivated as a cash crop until the 1920s, when the federal government made all forms of marijuana illegal. Under the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress authorized state pilot programs to study the cultivation of and commercial market for industrial hemp as a viable agricultural crop. Hence, perhaps, consumers’ confusion about whether or not CBD currently is legal.

Under the championing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, industrial hemp legalization was placed in the 2018 Farm Bill. The final language repeals Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act within the 2014 Farm Bill, which mandates that hemp be grown under the direction of a state agricultural pilot program or institution of higher education. It also removes industrial hemp from the CSA’s definition of “marijuana” and from Schedule I.

The 2018 Farm Bill should end the debate over the legal status of industrial hemp (and, therefore, CBD derived from it) under the CSA. All products made from industrial hemp, including CBD oil, will be legal under the CSA if they contain no more than 0.3 % THC.

Even with the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage, however, a second question will linger—is CBD legal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act? But that discussion is for another blog post!

While there certainly is some scientific and anecdotal evidence of CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, inflammation, nausea and seizures, and documentation of its value in fighting the opioid crisis, the current gray area of law concerning whether CBD is legal under federal law has discouraged research on its health benefits, and its technically illegal status has prevented federal research dollars from being designated to study its health benefits. Upon passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, this should change, and we should see studies concerning the health benefits of CBD proliferate.


Related Posts:  2018 FARM BILL LEGALIZES CBD…RIGHT?!  ,  What About Marijuana Medical Research?!

Cannabis Law


By Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

Now that Oklahoma has legalized medical marijuana, can patients take it to Will Rogers International Airport? Can patients carry it on the plane or check it in their baggage? Currently, nothing is posted on the airport’s website about a marijuana policy. However, one thing is certain: once you are in a Transportation Security Administration area in any airport, that area is run by, and under the jurisdiction of, the United States government. Thus, federal regulations apply and marijuana is illegal under federal law. Federal law prohibits possession of marijuana, and this includes possession of it in federal airspace.

TSA’s website specifically provides that “medical marijuana” is not allowed in carry-on bags or in checked bags. See, https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/medical.

In Oklahoma, seemingly airport law enforcement, which operates under state law, would adhere to the provisions of S.Q. 788. Additionally, Will Rogers is located within Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Council voted in September to reform ordinances addressing marijuana possession. Those reforms became effective on October 26, 2018, and reclassified marijuana as a Class “a” offense with a maximum fine of $400. Those reforms also conformed Oklahoma City’s ordinances to the provisions of S.Q. 788, so that patients with a state medical marijuana license and those with commercial business licenses issued by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will not be cited for marijuana possession if the amount within their possession is within the legal limit for license holders under S.Q. 788.

Across the country, airports are weighing in with marijuana policies. Boston’s Logan International Airport has no rule to prohibit bringing marijuana to the airport, whereas McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas has a formal, airport-wide ban on marijuana possession and has installed amnesty boxes for cannabis products at key locations outside airport buildings. Denver International Airport prohibits marijuana possession anywhere on airport property. Reno- Tahoe International Airport has a sign in the smoking area that reminds people marijuana use is prohibited. LAX’s policy is that what is legal on the streets of Los Angeles is also legal in airport terminals.

In practice, at most commercial airports in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, no charges will likely be filed against you if a state-legal amount of medical or recreational marijuana is discovered, because the matter is referred to airport law enforcement and state law applies. However, flying with marijuana is illegal under federal law, as is bringing marijuana into post-security areas at any airport in the United States.

So what is the take-away here? Don’t fly with marijuana. While it may be legal, at least medicinally, in a majority of states now, traveling with it is not. Don’t take the risk. Leave it behind.

Cannabis Law