With two CBD pharmaceutical drugs entering the realm of the FDA approval process, it puts CBD products into the realm of Food and Drug Administration regulation. Does this take power away from the Department of Justice in prosecuting CBD products under the Controlled Substances Act? Get ready for a lesson in legal loopholes (and a lot of 3-letter words), because rest assured, the government is using them for their benefit, not ours.
A changing landscape
As much as cannabis activists like to debate the lack of concrete action by the Obama administration, especially the failure in its final year of attending to definitive change that can continue after a change in leadership, we did get the Rohrabacher-Farr funding provision, restricting use of taxpayer funds in prosecuting federal infractions that fall within acceptance of state marijuana laws.
While it still leaves large loopholes, it does stem the tide of prosecution against dispensaries and patients to a great degree. Further, the ruling in D.C. in US v. MAMM has called into question the violent tactics used against non-violent “criminals”.
Since the president has consistently highlighted drug control as a “public health problem” rather than a criminal one, it has changed the fundamental landscape of debate on policy. As such, it has diverted jurisdictional authority away from the DOJ and put the pressure on the FDA to handle the issue.
The FDA: Another head, same beast
Companies distributing CBD-only products, the most restricted form of medical cannabis, and thus the most widely accepted, still face the wrath of the Food and Drug Administration. The irony is that the FDA is not an organization capable of policing or arresting for violations without the direct cooperation of the DOJ. They do have the power to make business very, very expensive and difficult, however. For them, the pen is mightier than the sword. The FDA has all the tools it needs to effectively wage a drug war on America.
They do have the power to make business very, very expensive and difficult, however. For them, the pen is mightier than the sword. The FDA has all the tools it needs to effectively wage a drug war on America. In their arsenal, they have civil asset forfeiture, fines of up to $10,000 per offense, and injunctions, as well as imprisonment of up to 3 years for repeat offenders, handled through the courts and DOJ.
So how is the FDA restricted?
If the FDA has to use the arresting power of the DOJ, but the DOJ is limited by Rohrabacher-Farr, how do they enforce their strongest penalties? Well, they have managed quite well for themselves, choosing to go after groups that conduct business across state lines. Because crossing state lines takes CBD out of the protection of state law and puts it under federal jurisdiction, it takes off the gloves for the DOJ. Then the FDA can sick its hounds with abandon by claiming their actions are not interfering with state regulations. Just because the attack dog has a short leash doesn’t mean it can’t still attack.
What does this restriction look like?
Is the federal government taking it easy on CBD? In about the way that the CIA limits the ways it tortures prisoners to only humane torture. We are seeing a change in the vocabulary of the War on Drugs to a more PC friendly concern for public health and safety, but the stringent requirements of FDA approval come with expensive, frequent hurdles that small businesses have a hard time leaping. These jumps are only truly manageable by big pharmaceutical companies with deep pockets, just how our government likes it. Until real change is made, saying that the new tactics are going soft on CBD is like saying it shouldn’t hurt as bad to get beat by police because at least they aren’t using guns.
Do you think the FDA will help the legalization effort for cannabis, or continue with the criminalization, as it has done for so long? Will their involvement keep the doors closed to all but big pharmaceutical companies? Let us know by sharing your opinions on social media or in the comments below.