White House holds summit on reducing overdose toll, Nevada psychedelic study bill goes to governor, and more.
New Coalition of Major Marijuana Groups Launches Push for Scheduling Reform. A new coalition of marijuana companies and advocacy groups calling itself the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform announced Tuesday that it is launching a campaign to reschedule marijuana even as it pushes for full-on legalization. The group will work with advocates, stakeholders, lawmakers and administration officials to promote education about the need to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
That is a less bold position than that held by advocacy groups calling for outright legalization, but the coalition says that moving marijuana to Schedules III, IV or V of the CSA would still represent "historic progress." that shouldn’t be discounted.
The coalition includes Acreage Holdings, American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp (ATACH), Columbia Care, Cresco Labs, Curaleaf, Dutchie, Green Thumb Industries, Marijuana Policy Project, National Cannabis Roundtable, Scotts Miracle-Gro, US Cannabis Council, Weldon Project, and Vicente LLP.
Advocates of full-on legalization warn that placing marijuana in another, less restrictive schedule (as opposed to completely descheduling it) could wreak havoc in existing legal marijuana markets and lead the way to further big business consolidation within the industry.
Nevada Assembly Approves Psychedelic Task Force Bill. A bill to create a working group to study psychedelics and develop plans to allow for regulated access for therapeutic purposes that has already passed the Senate, Senate Bill 242, passed the Assembly on Sunday. When introduced, the bill had language legalizing psilocybin and promoting research into the psychedelic, but it was amended in the Senate to now have only the working group, which would examine the use of psychedelics "in medicinal, therapeutic, and improved wellness." The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Joe Lombardo (R).
At White House Summit, Biden Administration Vows Renewed Effort to Fight Drug Overdoses. At a White House summit held jointly with public health officials from Canada and Mexico, the Biden administration vowed to improve its fight to combat drug overdoses, which took 109,000 lives last year. Administration officials pledged a multifaceted approach to tackling illicit drugs, especially fentanyl.
"Today's summit is needed because the global and regional drug environment has changed dramatically from just even a few years ago," Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP, the drug czar's office), told the summit. "Synthetic drugs have truly become a global threat," he added. "Today, we're here to ... look at how our collective response can be improved, and the role data collection has on saving lives," Gupta said.
Taliban Opium Ban Is Taking Hold. An April 2022 prohibition on opium-growing from Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada did not result in significant reductions in cultivation last year, but this year is different. The BBC traveled the country, consulted with farmers, government ministers, and experts, and used satellite analysis to report the following:
"The Taliban leaders appear to have been more successful cracking down on cultivation than anyone ever has. We found a huge fall in poppy growth in major opium-growing provinces, with one expert saying annual cultivation could be 80% down on last year. Less-profitable wheat crops have supplanted poppies in fields - and many farmers saying they are suffering financially."
"It is likely that cultivation will be less than 20% of what it was in 2022," said Afghanistan drug trade expert David Mansfield. "The scale of the reduction will be unprecedented. The high resolution imagery of Helmand province shows that poppy cultivation is down to less than 1,000 hectares when it was 129,000 hectares the previous year," said Mansfield, noting that would be a 99 percent reduction in the crop in that formerly key opium-producing province.
Farmers aren't happy, though: "You're destroying my field, God destroy your home," one woman shouted angrily at a Taliban eradication unit as they razed her poppy field.