December 2023 national news update: Lawmakers and canna-businesses push for reform 

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As the year draws to a close, the cannabis landscape across the nation witnesses an array of pivotal updates. This blog explores these year-end developments, unraveling the initiative threads that weave together policy, public opinion, and legal intricacies within the dynamic realm of cannabis advocacy.

Medical cannabis access for veterans continues to be a part of spending bill negotiations

Bipartisan congressional lawmakers are urging the House of Representatives to ensure that a large-scale spending bill maintains language to allow U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to veterans in states that have medical cannabis.

A letter sent to the House Appropriations Committee requested that leadership maintain this protection as a part of the final 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies spending bill. 

Both the House and Senate included provisions in their respective Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilConVA) measures that would permit VA doctors to make medical cannabis recommendations, but the letter asks for the adoption of the Senate version that Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) secured as a part of his chamber’s bill.  

“Thirty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories have passed laws that provide for legal access to medical marijuana products,” reads the letter. “As a result, more than three million patients across the country, including many veterans, now use medical marijuana at the recommendation of their physician to treat conditions ranging from seizures, glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain, nausea, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

Governors urge Biden to reschedule cannabis

Six state governors have jointly written a letter to President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., urging him to reschedule cannabis by the end of 2023. Signed by the governors of Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, the letter emphasizes that the rescheduling of cannabis would bring economic and tax advantages for cannabis businesses across the nation. It also highlights the potential to safeguard public health and bring government policy into closer alignment with public opinion. 

“Rescheduling cannabis aligns with a safe, regulated product that Americans can trust,” the letter reads. “As governors, we might disagree about whether recreational cannabis legalization or even cannabis use is a net positive, but we agree that the cannabis industry is here to stay, the states have created strong regulations, and supporting the state-regulated marketplace is essential for the safety of the American people.” 

The letter went on to explain that the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation to reschedule cannabis “comes on the heels of 38 states creating their own state markets” and regulatory systems.

Feds and canna-businesses request extension on cannabis lawsuit 

A coalition of cannabis businesses agreed to request a deadline extension for the filing of a lawsuit that seeks to block the enforcement of cannabis prohibition against state-legal activities. 

Filed in the U.S. District Court for The District of Massachusetts, the lawsuit claims that enforcing prohibition in legal state-level markets is unconstitutional and creates public safety risks while preventing licensed businesses from accessing critical financial services and tax deductions. It alleges that while Congress initially prohibited cannabis through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to eradicate interstate commerce, lawmakers and the executive branch have since “abandoned” that mission as more states have enacted legalization.

The joint request says that the attorneys for state-licensed companies and the Justice Department mutually agreed to request that the court extend the deadline for the government’s response to the lawsuit by 28 days – pushing it from December 26th, 2023 to January 23rd, 2024. 

“The parties respectfully submit that these adjustments are warranted in light of the obligations of counsel in other litigation matters and the holiday season,” the document says. “The parties agree that these requested extensions are reasonable, will not prejudice any party, and will not unduly delay resolution of this matter.” 

Stay up to date with CWCBExpo 

As we bid farewell to the year, the complex tapestry of cannabis news and reform reveals itself in a series of significant developments. As you transition into the new year, look no further than CWCBExpo for comprehensive updates on the industry’s latest happenings nationwide. Join the in-person expo to immerse yourself in the pulse of our industry, or check out our website for all the latest updates. 

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