Since its inception, the cannabis industry has faced many challenges. In the last few weeks great strides have been taken toward improving two major areas for the industry: research and banking.
Many cannabis consumers turn to the plant for its medicinal properties, but there always has been a lack of scientific research to support these benefits. Because the Unites States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which are substances, or chemicals defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, research and clinical trials on the plant always have been hindered. Luckily, this seems like it will change.
In late August the federal government announced plans to expand cannabis research. According to the announcement, the DEA plans to propose new regulations for the program which allows growers to produce marijuana for scientific and medical research. This means more growers will have the opportunity to offer cannabis for research. Currently, only one grow is legally approved to provide flower for research purposes. It produces low-grade flower and limited strains. There is no access to cannabis with varying chemical makeups or better and consistent flower. The hope is that removing the monopoly on production for research will incentivize growers to produce higher quality cannabis.
In turn, researchers like Dr. Sue Sisley, who currently is conducting research on how the plant may or may not impact those suffering from PTSD, will have more options on where to obtain cannabis. An article by Think Progress explains this move will “pave the way for the robust clinical trials cannabis experts believe will force the government to downgrade marijuana’s Controlled Substances Act classification.”
While the decision might be surprising to some, it was something Dr. Sue Sisley had long been looking for. “The decision came just two days before a key deadline in a lawsuit against the agency brought by cannabis researcher Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute. Sisley had sought to end three years of stalling by the DEA,” according to the Think Progress article.
While supporters are skeptical these changes will be implemented in a timely manner, this is an amazing step forward for cannabis research.
When it comes to the cannabis industry, banking has been the biggest hurdle for businesses. On Sept. 25, 2019 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019. Culture Magazine states, “The SAFE Banking Act would protect banks that cater to cannabis businesses…It would remove a significant barrier to the pathway to legitimacy for cannabis businesses in any state that allows medical or recreational cannabis.” The historic bill passed with a 321-103 vote.
The measure was co-sponsored by Nevada’s very own, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). Earlier this month, according to the Nevada Current, “Titus talked to Nevada legislators about the dangers inherent in forcing marijuana enterprises to operate as cash businesses.”
This is great news for cannabis businesses, but the bill still has to make its way through the U.S. Senate for approval.
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