Thoughts on December 2, “our” Liberation Day

First, here’s the recap of the historic United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs decision on December 2:

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, but to maintain it in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention was decided by 27 votes to 25 and with one abstention to follow this recommendation. Cannabis and cannabis resin will accordingly be deleted from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention. They remain in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and thus remain subject to all levels of control of the 1961 Convention.

The WHO recommendation to move delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its isomers from the schedules of the 1971 Convention to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention was rejected by 23 votes to 28 with 2 abstentions.

The WHO recommendation to delete extracts and tinctures of cannabis from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention was decided by 24 votes to 27 and with 2 abstentions not to adopt this recommendation.

The WHO recommendation to add a footnote to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention to read “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0.2 per cent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol are not under international control” was decided by 6 to 43 votes and with 4 abstentions not to add such a footnote.

We have to celebrate all our wins, big and small, to maintain momentum and hope. Between the UNOCD/CND decision, the hearing on HR 3884, and the announcement to re-open Novel Foods applications for CBD products in Europe, December 2 might become known as “Cannabis Liberation Day” for patients.

1) One perspective on Cannabis Extracts and Tinctures losing the vote is, the United Nations is ultimately a diplomatic body. They gave us a win and they gave them a win. That’s diplomacy, win-win (aka lose-lose, a half-full glass perspective). Russia in particular did not want Cannabis to win or even this vote, or as the national propaganda arm said, “UN rejects 5 out of 6 WHO recommendations on cannabis control.” A Russian diplomat even chastised WHO, saying WHO experts should closer coordinate with the International Narcotics Control Bureau (INCB) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).” The push is still on to criminalize heavily what DEA once called “the safest therapeutically active substance known to man” and the patients who use it.

They somewhat freed “the devil’s molecule” but held back “E+T 5.4” from vapers and kept their fingers in the pie via the least-restrictive category, Schedule 4. Unfortunately oils for patients can get caught up in that. It does have the potential to slow Big Pharma’s anticipated move into the space, as they aren’t big on primary agricultural products with hundreds of active medicinal molecules like flowers, preferring uniform, standardized, single-molecule products.

2) A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Michael Krawitz, Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, Farid Ghehioueche and team at FAAAT. They got this done, the votes were close and the Chairman of the commission hostile to the process, backed by heavyweight Russia. It was a close vote, but carried. Got spare cash? Send it to them. Activism may not be thankless, but thanks don’t pay the rent. They deserve it. After years of watching industry associations manage minor policy disagreements by industry leaders with all the grace of a bull in a china shop, and the “Legalization-Industrial Complex” such as NORML and Vote Hemp appear to do everything they can to protect their jobs by dawdling on legalization, these guys are the real deal.

3) The canards repeated by the opposers regarding children and abuse and crime shows where to focus our future efforts of persuasion.

African nations need our education and lobbying efforts, the vote revealed they are against a safe nontoxic plant in their own cultures’ medicine chests for thousands of years. The growing global Cannabis market has the potential to improve national public health and economies, and alleviate farmer poverty. It’s a compelling economic argument, the saving on enforcement costs plus export dollars for a safe plant easily grown locally for ages.

In the Middle East and Central Asia, they are against a medicine in their culture for thousands of years thanks to the Silk Road. It’s ironic, as Central Asia is considered the birthplace of the Cannabis we know today. Heck, there’s even a Cannabis subspecies named Afghanica!

I can see why China was against, they want to slow everyone while they plow ahead full-steam themselves. Savvy.

Cannabis also fits neatly in-line with many aspects of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

4) If a nation wanted to encourage a robust Cannabis production industry for domestic and/or export and still maintain SCND Treaty compliance, it would mandate testing using ONLY a method which does not decarboxylate or in any way convert the result to a different molecule than was the input. Bingo, everybody’s happy.

The Treaty is regarding the medicinal “devil’s molecule,” delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and its isomers. Tetrahydrocannabolic acid (THCa) is the precursor cannabinoid found in raw hemp, marijuana, or drug Cannabis. It is not Scheduled under the Treaty or the CSA 1970. Even at 0.2% delta-9 THC, most marijuana would qualify as “hemp.” THCa content would of course be high. Just another damn contortion we have to go through to maintain this cruel charade by small-minded people on a immoral crusade against traditional medicines 60 years ago.

5) Novel Foods applications for CBD products opened back up in the EU, in light of the recent ECJ (the Supreme Court of the E.U.) ruling in the Kannavape case.

EIHA is organizing a Novel Foods consortium and I think it’s a very bad idea. While it makes them tons of money in perpetuity, not pushing back on Novel Food registration now is bad for all in the industry except those few deep pocket members. It leverages the Prohibitionist canard that CBD is potentially dangerous, in order to reduce competition and improve profits. But there is precious little evidence for that, even WHO stated CBD is remarkably safe and not prone to abuse.

Legal, natural, minimally-processed CBD deserves to be as exempt from Novel Food registration as is already hempseed and hempseed oil. Novel Food registration unchallenged by EIHA allows it to be used as a cudgel against non-consortium competitors. It also opens the door to Big Pharma to swoop in at the last minute, and those in the consortium know they’ll be the first acquisition targets.

Lobbying + litigation is a better route, it relieves the entire industry of several millions of Euros in ridiculous and unnecessary compliance costs, and provides a more-level and fairer playing field. Meekly accepting EFSA’s opening gambit means in Europe each and every product put on the market must first undergo expensive toxicology testing, the cost could be in the hundreds of thousands of Euros per product. Getting concessions instead from EFSA means patients will have better access, costs will be reduced, more companies can enter the market, and the regulatory burden is substantially reduced thereby benefitting society. Who doesn’t want that? Only Big Pharma and other deep pocket companies, leveraging laws to increase profits and reduce competition to the detriment of patients.

6) To add to the legend of “Liberation Day,” on the same day the U.S. Congress House Rules Committee live-streamed a passing to the floor their version of Vice-President-elect/Senator Harris’ MORE Act, HR 3884.

The MORE Act got cleaned up a bit since I last wrote on it. Once passed and marijuana is descheduled, between the explosion in new competitors to the current licensees therefore driving down price and increasing selection and access, interstate commerce favoring low-cost growers or even foreign ones, the tax later going to weight from value, transfer pricing schemes, and repeal of 280e, it’s a net positive for patients.

Progressive states could even require licensees provide a certain percentage to patients at a subsidized cost. While I can understand why those who have successfully secured licenses in “legal” states aren’t going to be happy about this, the over half-million people still arrested annually in the U.S. will be.

If necessary, Biden can realize Harris’ MORE Act via Executive Orders and bypass the Senate, where good bills go to die under McConnell’s cruel watch. Ironically, the 5% excise tax, my only problem with it, might be the most in danger this way, requiring Congress thus the intractable GOP-controlled Senate.

With 5 more states legalizing last November 3, now totaling 47 (including CBD-only) and 97.8% of the U.S. population, and with 92% popular support for medical, it’s almost a foregone Tenth Amendment conclusion; federal face-saving really. Interstate commerce and big Multi-State Operators will be the biggest beneficiaries, a very small price to pay to stop ruining the lives of over 500,000 patients every year and denying people safe, effective, legal medicine.

Legalizing disintermediates foreign and domestic criminal gangs, trading them for gangs of lucre-lovers, lobbyists, and lawyers in statehouses and city halls. It’s a fair trade if they stop arresting patients.

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