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CA Kratom Regulation Bill Advances, VT Governor Vetoes Safe Injection Site Bill, More... (6/3/24)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1213)

Customs and Border Patrol has cut the period of acceptable last marijuana use for recruits from two years to 90 days, the federal defense bill is the locus of several drug policy-related amendments, and more.

Kratom. The state of California is moving to regulate -- not prohibit -- it. (Project CBD)
Marijuana Policy

CBP Relaxes Marijuana Use Policy for Border Patrol Recruits, Republican Senator Complains. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reduced the amount of time that has passed since last using marijuana for Border Patrol recruits to be eligible to be hired by the agency. The marijuana use lookback period was two years but has now been lessened to 90 days.

That is according to an April letter from Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) to Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller. The letter came after a briefing by CBP to the senator where the agency reported that the policy change was designed to aid the recruitment of new agents and to acknowledge the conflict between state laws legalizing marijuana and continuing federal marijuana prohibition.

The Oklahoma Republican was not happy about the change, expressing "[grave concerns] that this policy undermines the security and integrity of the Border Patrol workforce" and calling for it to be revoked. He also wants to know about the justification for the move, any legal review undertaken before it was enacted, and how the move has affected the rate of polygraph passage at an agency where they have been notoriously low.

But the move is part of a broader relaxation of previous marijuana use rules under the Biden administration. Personnel vetting forms government-wide now separate marijuana from other drugs and require no use for the past 90 days, not the seven-year period previously mandated in the federal government.

GOP Representatives Seek to Remove Ban on Marijuana Testing for Military Recruits from Defense Bill. The pending defense appropriations bill is becoming a locus of conflicting drug-related provisions, with some Republican members of Congress seeking to remove a ban on marijuana testing for military recruits that has already been approved, while other members are pushing several drug policy-related amendments that, among other things, would ease the rescheduling of certain psychedelics and end the denial of security clearances based on past marijuana use.

The 2025 National Defense Authorization Act has already passed out of the House Armed Services Committee and is now before the House Rules Committee, where these issues will be thrashed out ahead of a House floor vote.

The ban on marijuana testing of recruits has survived the Armed Service Committee, but now, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL) have each filed separate amendments to remove that language.

Meanwhile, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) filed another familiar amendment that would prevent military departments from denying security clearances to people based solely on their past marijuana use if it was in compliance with state law, and Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) also filed an amendment to codify that military servicemembers can’t be penalized for using or possessing federally legal hemp products.

Yet another proposes amendment, Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC), would streamline the process for the DEA to move drugs named as "breakthrough therapies" from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, while one more, from Reps. Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Laurel Lee (R-FL), Mikkie Sherrill (D-NJ), Barry Moore (R-AL) and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), would expand eligibility for expungements of nonviolent drug convictions by removing an age restriction limiting relief to those who were under 21 at the time of the offense.


California Assembly Approves Kratom Regulation Bill. The Assembly last Friday approved an industry-supported bill to regulate kratom, Assembly Bill 2356. Kratom is a substance derived from the South Asian evergreen tree Mitragyna speciosa that has both opioid-like and stimulative effects. It is not a controlled substance in the US, but the DEA has listed it as a drug of concern.

The bill is sponsored by Assemblymember Matthew Haney (D) with the backing of the industry group the Global Kratom Coalition.

"Moving out of the California Assembly for hearings in the California Senate is a major step in the march to make AB 2365 law," said Matthew Lowe, Executive Director of the Global Kratom Coalition. "The Assembly's action shows they are serious about consumer safety first through well-researched, science-backed standards that account for the ever-evolving kratom marketplace and the fact that not all kratom is equal. We urge the California Senate and kratom supporters from all circles to support this bill."

The bill contains comprehensive regulations designed to protect consumers while preserving access to leaf kratom and kratom extracts. The bill includes key provisions such as defining what constitutes leaf kratom and kratom extracts, banning synthetic kratom derivatives, setting packaging and labeling standards, enforcing age restrictions for purchases, requiring registration and strict testing protocols for kratom processors, and specifying enforcement measures for violations.


Vermont Governor Signs Bill to Create Psychedelics Working Group. Gov. Phil Scott (R) has signed into law Senate Bill 114, which will create the Psychedelic Therapy Advisory Working Group. That group is charged with making recommendations on whether and how the state should regulate legal access to substances such as MDMA and psilocybin.

The law does not legalize psychedelics, but creates the task force to "review the latest research and evidence of the public health benefits and risks of clinical psychedelic-assisted treatments" and "examine the laws and programs of other states that have authorized the use of psychedelics by health care providers in a therapeutic setting."

Both MDMA and psilocybin have been granted breakthrough therapy status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and clinical trials with MDMA could see it approved for therapeutic use by the FDA as early as this year.

Harm Reduction

Vermont Governor Vetoes Safe Injection Site Bill. Gov. Phil Scott (R) has vetoed a bill that would have allowed a safe injection site to open in Burlington, House Bill 72. It would have been a pilot project funded by $1.1 million from the state's opioid settlement fund, with another $300,000 to study its impact.

But Scott wasn't having it.

"While these sites are well-intentioned, this costly experiment will divert financial resources from proven prevention, treatment and recovery strategies, as well as harm reduction initiatives that facilitate entry into treatment rather than continued use," the governor wrote in a veto message. "While it may consolidate the widespread drug use in Burlington into a smaller area within the city, it will come at the expense of the treatment and recovery needs of other communities, for whom such a model will not work."

Scott suggested the safe injection site was not needed because the state's overdose prevention strategies "including widespread Narcan distribution, fentanyl testing strips, needle exchanges, enhanced prevention, treatment and recovery through local coalitions" -- are already "resulting in some positive trends in relation to overdose deaths."

"Paired with increased enforcement," he continued, "and the ability to invest Opioid Settlement funds in additional strategies like drug testing, naloxone vending machines, contingency management, and expanded outreach, I’m hopeful we will continue to see fewer and fewer overdose deaths."

Scott said earlier that he was "philosophically and pragmatically opposed" to the change despite support from city leaders in Burlington.

"It may save lives, but how much are we going to lose because we didn’t get them into treatment or keep them from using in the first place with prevention?" he said at the time.

The House may try to override the governor's veto, but it is unclear if supporters can muster the votes to do so.

"We understand this is a new strategy to prevent overdose deaths and get people into treatment in Vermont, which is why it is a pilot project with one center," said House Speaker Jill Krowinski (D), who represents Burlington. "The governor's veto of this bill is a drastic response to a thoughtful and measured approach to saving lives."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Terry McKinney (not verified)

I live in Vancouver,BC.Canada.We have had safe injection sites for decades.There are always those hard line anti drug people who make bogus claims about such sites encouraging drug addiction and injection drug use?They even go so far s to claim such sites enable such drug use when nothing could be further from the truth.I began using heroin in the 1960's when the drug squad used to kick down washroom doors to bust addicts with a dirty spoon or traces in a needle.They were vicious,violent and they never stopped anyone from using heroin.Except maybe for the one time the door crashed down?There were no sites of any kind and an all out war on addiction.We even had to fight to prevent addiction,itself from being made a crime.Everything surrounding it was very illegal.With the advent of Fentanyl in 2014,the whole scene changed.Instead of 30 OD's a year we were having that many die in a long weekend.With people using alone,deaths were out of control.This is why the SIS were created.We already had needle exchanges due to aids.Fentanyl made SIS a must.People are still dying from using alone but the numbers would be so much higher if the sites were ever shut down.Anyone opposing such sites is in favor of the death penalty for hard drug use.It's that simple.

Sat, 06/15/2024 - 2:03am Permalink

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