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Welcome to our June 2023 federal news update, where we bring you the most recent advancements in cannabis legislation and trends at the national level. In this edition, we delve into noteworthy progress at the intersection of cannabis and athletics, as well as updates regarding veteran access to medical cannabis. Join us as we take a look at some of the most impactful developments shaping the industry on a national scale.
NCAA Panel Suggests Removing Cannabis From Banned Substances List
A panel established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to reexamine the association’s policies around cannabis recently recommended removing the plant from the banned substance list for college athletes.
The recommendation from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) is the latest in reforms to the NCAA’s cannabis policy since the group raised the threshold of THC for athletic drug testing last year. At that time, the NCAA also began reworking its penalties for cannabis use and determined that college athletes wouldn’t lose eligibility due to positive drug tests for cannabis.
If the panel’s recommendation is accepted, it will mark the end of the current ban on cannabis use by student athletes, who are currently subjected to regular drug screenings, including cannabis. The CSMAS emphasized that drug testing should focus on substances that provided an unfair advantage and acknowledged that cannabis does not fall into this category.
The panel’s recommendation is expected to be reviewed and considered by the governing bodies throughout the summer months.
Senate Committee Approves Bill Allowing Expanding Veteran Access to Medical Cannabis
On June 22, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill containing an amendment enabling U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients in states where it’s legal.
“Our legislation will increase funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs for veterans, get women veterans the medical care they need, support the expansion of the caregiver’s program, and so much more,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said in a statement.
This change comes after multiple failed attempts to obtain funding for research into cannabis as a treatment for common health concerns many veterans experience. While no such legislation has passed, the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), allows doctors to speak to their veteran patients about the pros and cons of medical cannabis and fill out related paperwork if required.
House Committee Approves Research on Medical Cannabis and Psychedelics
The House Armed Services Committee recently approved an amendment in a major defense bill to fund and research a pilot program studying the effects of medical cannabis and psychedelics for active-duty military members. The committee approved the measure, which was proposed by Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Morgan Luttrell (R-TX), on June 21 during a markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The program would be intended to assess the potential health effects of cannabis use among veterans and service members who are beneficiaries of the VA. The amendment calls for the pilot program to begin within 90 days of the enactment of the amendment. If that provision is followed, the pilot program would begin September 21, 2023.
Eligibility for participation in the program would require a VA participant to have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety, or have been prescribed pain management. Treatments could include Psilocybin, Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine 12 (commonly known as MDMA), or other potentially beneficial psychedelics.
NFL is Funding Research on CBD For Players With Concussions
The National Football League (NFL) and its player’s union have officially announced a joint commitment to funding additional research on the therapeutic potential of CBD as an alternative treatment for pain, particularly for players dealing with concussions.
The NFL and the NFLPA have selected the American Society of Pain and Neuroscience and Emory University to conduct these studies, which will include participants from professional athletes from various sports. The research will focus on examining the effects of CBD and non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation in alleviating concussion symptoms and the impact of “mindfulness-based intervention” in sports medicine injuries.
“We are proud to lead the way on investigating how the use of CBD and other alternative measures could positively impact pain management for players. As within the broader scope of player health and safety, we want to ensure every treatment at our disposal clears the appropriate medical standard for wider use,” NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said in a news release.
This decision comes after the NFL provided $1 million in funding for studies last year, exploring the potential benefits of CBD for pain recovery and reducing reliance on opioids.
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As policymakers, athletes, and veterans advocate for change, these developments testify to the ongoing evolution and acceptance of cannabis nationally. As the landscape continues to shift, it’s essential to stay informed and engaged. To stay connected, we encourage you to continue reading our news updates and consider attending events like CWCBExpo. These platforms provide invaluable opportunities to network and learn from industry leaders to shape the future of cannabis.