February 2024 National News Update: Milestones, Projections, and Partnerships

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Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient roundup of the biggest cannabis news stories and hemp headlines emerging across the nation. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (now X) to get the most recent edition when it’s published.


February held some big headlines for the cannabis industry, including groundbreaking research into cannabinoids and terpenes, Vice President Kamala Harris meeting with pardon recipients, and law enforcement leaders advocating for cannabis rescheduling. Join us as we dive into the latest cannabis news nationwide and how it’s impacting the industry and consumers everywhere.


Law enforcement group pushes for cannabis rescheduling


A coalition of police chiefs and prosecutors, represented by the Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration (LEL), has called upon the Biden administration to reclassify cannabis under federal law. Led by prominent figures such as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator (DEA) Anne Milgram, the organization advocates for rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III. 


In a letter addressed to the administration, the coalition underscored the benefits of rescheduling, including the prioritization of limited public safety resources. “We believe that reclassification under schedule III would be an important step to help both federal and state law enforcement better prioritize limited public safety resources,” the LEL wrote in the letter. “Moreover, rescheduling would also allow legal markets to compete on a level playing field, potentially leading to greater reinvestments in critical programs that can bolster public safety.” 


The call from LEL comes as the DEA is mulling a proposal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance. Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III would represent a landmark step towards comprehensive federal cannabis reform. 


The letter from LEL is the latest in mounting pressure for regulators to consider cannabis reform. Last month, Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the DEA requesting cannabis be descheduled entirely, eliminating its status as a controlled substance altogether.


New study assesses cannabis compounds and the entourage effects


A recent study published in the journal Molecules delved into the intricate interactions between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds found in cannabis, shedding light on the so-called “entourage effect”, which describes the collaborative dynamics of these components and their combined effects. 


The study, published in January 2024, confirmed the concept of the entourage effect, which has often been controversial among researchers. The study emphasized that it’s not merely THC and CBD, but the complex interplay of molecules, that shape our individual cannabis experience. 


“In cannabis science, cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids have often been overlooked, with much of the literature focusing predominantly on the major cannabinoids THC and CBD,” reports the team behind the new study. “However, emerging evidence suggests that these constituents, particularly cannabinoids and terpenes, play a substantial role in interacting and collaborating. This interplay gives rise to the diverse effects, benefits, and side effects observed among different cannabis strains, which can vary in the ratios of these components.”


The research represents a step forward in our understanding of cannabis and how it works. While much research is still needed, advancing our understanding of the entourage effect brings us a step closer to maximizing the therapeutic potential of the plant.


Kamala Harris reaches out to cannabis pardon recipients 


Vice President Kamala Harris’s office has been actively engaging with those who have received pardons for cannabis possession under President Biden’s clemency proclamations, aiming to ensure a smooth process and broader discussion into cannabis policy reform. 


Chris Goldstein, a prominent activist recently pardoned for a 2014 possession case, revealed that the vice president’s office contacted him and subsequently met with three staffers to discuss his certification experience, as well as cannabis reform proposals such as descheduling and expungement. 


Goldstein commended the office for their attentiveness and keen interest in understanding the nuances of cannabis policy reform. He raised the point that the pardons people received over possession did not clear their records, which still need to be expunged. He also noted that the office “absolutely heard that” and understood the “nuance” of the policy issue.


“I want to give them credit for this, because they were reaching out to pretty much anybody who they could who had gotten a pardon recently through the Department of Justice and trying to communicate with people about the pardons and make sure the process was going well,” he told Marijuana Moment. “It seemed like they were really invested in making sure that people had an easy process in getting the pardons and that it was easy to apply, it was a short waiting period, all those things.”


Poll find 17% of American adults consume cannabis 


According to a new Gallup poll, approximately 17% of American adults reported consuming cannabis, remaining relatively stable compared to the previous year’s 16% but significantly increased from just 11% in 2015.


“Age is a significant driver of the likelihood of smoking marijuana. About a quarter of young adults, those aged 18 to 34, say they smoke marijuana (26%), but reported use falls to 18% among adults aged 35 to 54 and is even lower, 11%, among adults aged 55 and older,” reads the Gallup analysis. 


Other standouts from the responses included:

  • Men (19%) are more likely than women (14%) to consume cannabis.
  • College graduates (9%) are about half as likely as those without a college degree (21%) to consume cannabis.
  • Democrats (22%) are more likely than Republicans (12%) to report consuming cannabis, with independents’ (17%) falling between them.

Exploring the future of cannabis with CWCBExpo 


As we wrap up February, one thing is clear: the future of cannabis is dynamic and full of promise. Looking ahead, we remain committed to collaboration, innovation, and advocacy as we shape a bright future for the cannabis industry. Stay up to date with our monthly news updates, or join us in person at CWCBExpo this June to network with industry leaders and learn from cannabis experts. 

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