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Vaping Illness More Rare in Legalization States, DEA Adjusts Drug Quotas for COVID-19 Care, More... (4/7/20)

The DEA takes positive steps on a couple of fronts, and more.

The DEA did something good this week. (dea.gov)
Medical Marijuana

DEA Relaxes Rules for Only Federally Approved Drug Derived from Marijuana. The DEA on Monday notified GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Epidiolex, which is derived from CBD, that it no longer considers the drug a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The change is effective immediately. Epidiolex remains a prescription medication, but now, doctors who prescribe it do not have to be in the DEA's drug monitoring program.

Vaping

Study Finds Vaping-Related Lung Injury Less Common in Legal Recreational Marijuana States. A new analysis published by JAMA Network Open finds that the severe lung illness linked to vaping is more common in states where consumers don't have access to legal recreational marijuana. The disease, known as e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI), has been most strongly linked to black market marijuana vaping products. "Our results are suggestive that those in recreational marijuana states may be less likely to purchase illegal marijuana products on the black market," said Dr. Alex Hollingsworth, assistant professor in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and coauthor of the JAMA Network Open study. The study found that legal recreational marijuana states averaged 1.7 EVALI cases per million population, while medical marijuana-only states averaged 8.8 cases per million and prohibition states averaged 8.1 cases per million.

Drug Policy

DEA Takes Steps to Allow Increased Production of Controlled Substances for COVID-19 Care. The Drug Enforcement Administration announced Tuesday that it is increasing Aggregate Production Quotas available to pharmaceutical manufacturers for the production of controlled substance medications that are in high demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. DEA will also approve increases in imports of medications necessary for patients on ventilators. The agency increased the quotas by 15% for certain substances needed for the treatment of COVID-19, including fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, codeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and certain controlled substance intermediates which are essential to their production. DEA will also increase the APQ for methadone to ensure that opioid treatment programs have sufficient supplies to treat patients suffering from opioid use disorder. In addition, DEA is increasing the authorized amounts of certain schedule III and IV controlled substances that may be imported into the United States, including ketamine, diazepam, midazolam, lorazepam, and phenobarbital, which are also necessary to treat patients on ventilators.

Idaho MedMj Campaign Suspends, House Moves to Quash Vaping, More... (4/3/20)

A group of US senators is seeking to include marijuana businesses in an emergency loan program, Idaho activists suspend signature gathering for their medical marijuana initiative campaign, a leading member of the House Oversight Committee seeks to ban the distribution of e-cigs, and more.

Vaping is again under attack amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Eleven Senators Ask for Marijuana Businesses to Be Included in Federal Loan Program. Eleven US senators have sent a letter to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee asking that they include a provision to allow marijuana businesses access to federal loan services in a pending annual spending bill. Led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), the senators wrote that the committee should "include report language prohibiting the Small Business Administration (SBA) from denying loan applications" to "cannabis firms as part of the fiscal year 2021 spending bill for Financial Services and General Government and Related Agencies." SBA services that marijuana companies should be eligible for include the Loan Guarantee Program, Disaster Assistance Program and Microloan Program, the group said.

Medical Marijuana

Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Suspended Because of Coronavirus Pandemic. An effort to put a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in November is over. The Idaho Cannabis Coalition announced Thursday that it is suspending its signature gathering campaign because of the coronavirus pandemic. It only had until May 1 to turn in signatures, so the suspension marks the effective end to the effort this year.

Vaping

House Oversight Committee Requests FDA ban on E-Cigarettes. In a letter signed by Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Chair Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the House Oversight Committee asked the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday to ban the distribution of e-cigarettes because of their potential impact on the coronavirus pandemic. The virus's main target is the lungs. "The FDA has both the authority and an obligation to start enforcing the law against all e-cigarettes in order to protect the public health. Vaping will add to the stress on our hospitals as more people take up intensive care beds and require ventilators and other critical equipment," Krishnamoorti wrote.

International

Japan Saw Record Number of Pot Busts Last Year. Some 4,321 people were arrested in marijuana cases last year, up by 743 over the previous year. That is the sixth consecutive year of rising marijuana arrests in the insular nation. Involvement by young people was on the rise, police said, with the number of teens jumping more than four times and the number of people in their 20s more than doubling.

Chronicle AM: IL Legal Marijuana Sales Begin, FDA Bans Flavored Vape Cartridges, More... (1/2/20)

Legal marijuana sales get underway in Illinois, the Italian Supreme Court gives the okay to personal marijuana cultivation, Colombia wants to resume aerial spraying of coca crops with herbicides, and more.

People lined up by the hundreds in Chicago on New Year's Day to buy state-legal marijuana. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Florida Legalization Initiative Campaign Sues Over Early Deadline. The Make It Legal Florida marijuana legalization initiative campaign filed a lawsuit Tuesday charging that the state's new law regarding initiatives violates their rights by imposing a "stealth deadline" that effectively shortens the signature gathering period by a month. The campaign is seeking another month to submit petition signatures. The campaign has until February 1 to come up with 766,000 valid voter signatures, but says the new law creates a "stealth deadline" of January 2 to submit signatures to county supervisors for verification.

Illinois Governor Pardons 11,000 Marijuana Offenders Just Ahead of Legalization. Gov. JB Pritzker (D) on Tuesday issued more than 11,000 pardons to people with low-level marijuana possession convictions. The move came one day ahead of the commencement of legal marijuana sales in the state.

Illinois Marijuana Legalization, Sales Now in Effect. The first legal marijuana sales in the state began at 6:00am New Year's Day, with hundreds of people lined up at shops in Chicago and its suburbs. That makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana, and the first to also legalize sales through the legislative process as opposed to via an initiative.

Oklahoma Activists File Revised 2020 Marijuana Legalization Measure to Protect Medical Program. The activists behind a marijuana legalization initiative filed in December have withdrawn it and replaced it with a new initiative, State Question 808, that contains revised language aimed at protecting the state's existing medical marijuana program. The new initiative specifies that a 15% excise tax on sales would not apply to medical marijuana and says only existing medical marijuana dispensaries would be eligible for recreational licenses for the first two years after implementation.

Virginia Prosecutor Announces His Office Will Not Pursue Marijuana Possession Cases. Incoming Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano used his first day on the job Thursday to announce that his office will not prosecute low-level marijuana possession cases. But the local judiciary is not cooperating: One judge has already rejected Descano's guidance and denied a motion to dismiss one such case, saying each case needs to be reviewed individually.

Vaping

FDA Announces Ban on Flavored Vaping Cartridges. The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a policy prioritizing enforcement against certain unauthorized flavored e-cigarette products that appeal to kids, including fruit and mint flavors. Under this policy, companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions. The only vaping cartridges that will be allowed are those with tobacco and menthol flavors.

International

Colombia Proposes Resumption of Aerial Spraying of Coca Fields. The Ministry of Justice on Monday published a draft law that would allow for the aerial spraying of herbicides on coca fields. The previous government ended such spraying four years ago, citing health concerns. The new proposal also calls for the creation of an independent agency that would oversee complaints related to aerial spraying including any potential impacts on rural communities.

Italian Supreme Court Rules Growing a Little Marijuana at Home Not a Crime. The Supreme Court ruled on December 27 that growing small amounts of marijuana for personal use is not a crime. The court held that "at home, small-scale cultivation activities are to be considered excluded from the application of the penal code." It's unclear just what qualifies as "small-scale cultivation." The case before the court involved two plants.

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