Cannabis in Texas YEA OR NAY? MD 420 May 1, 2019 Medical, Political There have been a record breaking number of submissions of cannabis related bills in the 2019 session. These cannabis related topics are sectioned off into three main categories; reducing penalties (13 bills), commercial hemp (9 bills), and medical cannabis (17 bills). Here are the basic summaries of the categories, but our focus will be primarily on the medicinal regulations (17) and agenda for cannabinoids (both CBD and THC). TEXAS POLITICS TODAY: 86th Texas Legislature – Pending Legislation 1. REDUCING PENALTIES The war on drugs is finally coming to an end, along with the eventual death of Texas prohibition. Only now are we recognizing the failure of years of prosecution for a substance far less dangerous than pharmaceutical prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, and about as “addictive” or habit forming as a cup of coffee. There are currently 13 bills submitted for reducing penalties, and a few more on erasing prior convictions. 2. COMMERCIAL HEMP Texas produces more than 42% of all of the cotton for the entire U.S. which generated $1.75 billion in 2017. In a state where cotton is the “king” as the number one agricultural export crop (number two is beef), imagine doubling the cotton fiber and revenues by switching to hemp! When comparing hemp to cotton, hemp produces twice as much fiber per acre, uses 1/5 of the water, uses low to no insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides, and can more than triple the profits Texas cotton farmers would make growing cotton – which increases the economy of every farming community in Texas. Cotton, in comparison, is the largest user of water among all agricultural commodities, severely degrades soil quality because it uses 25% of the world’s pesticides and 7% of all fertilizers. The runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and minerals from cotton fields contaminates rivers, lakes, wetlands, and underground aquifers, which affect biodiversity and have caused species extinction throughout the world. There are currently nine bills submitted addressing industrial hemp for licensing and production regulation – which would also include CBD production. As of April 5th, CBD will be removed from the Schedule 1 status. 3. MEDICAL CANNABIS Schedule 1 status for cannabis, all set in motion in 1972 by President Nixon, is finally becoming recognized as a “bogus” policy based on outdated political agendas and coverups (Shafer Commission Report – 1972), and is a prime example of failed policy regarding prohibition. Like cockroaches when the light comes on, the DEA scatters when asked about enforcing something that kills less people than bee stings, lightning strikes, shark attacks and peanut butter. Cannabis has never been the cause of death on anyone, is less dangerous and less addictive than sugar, and is quickly becoming recognized as a true medical wonder. More on Schedule 1 definition later, but there are currently 17 bills submitted in this session regarding medical cannabis use and how doctors should be the ones in charge of it Texas has already made huge mistakes by granting the first three state cannabis licenses (two of which were not even Texas based companies) to grow high-CBD low-THC plants only for the specific use of children with rare forms of epilepsy, which also requires a prescription from two different pediatric neurologists. A bit overkill for CBD – which has no psychoactive “high”, no addiction risks and no toxic side effects. The fact that there are so many requirements on CBD shows that the leadership who designed those original requirements were completely uninformed and inexperienced in cannabis knowledge. That is why less than 1% of the patients that qualified for the compassionate care program ever used it, making it a useless law from the start. Concerned and passionate parents either moved out of state or continued to take their kids to Colorado to get access to treat their epilepsy. Now with the Farm Bill passing, Texas is finally catching up with the rest of the country by approving hemp and taking CBD off the schedule. This action will allow Texas farmers to grow hemp for cotton fiber replacement, textiles, food, or medicinal CBD production – which basically kills the three companies that were approved two years ago to make medical grade CBD for kids suffering from epilepsy. POLITICS VS CANNABIS The political leadership of Texas has been slow and resistant in giving full spectrum (THC and CBD) medical cannabis a “green” light. A great example of resistance is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. However, there are some great examples of politicians doing some amazing good. Senator Menendez has heroically taken the baton to help expand the qualifying conditions to include cancer, chronic pain and PTSD to name a few. Being that his wife suffers from multiple sclerosis, I think any man who knows the risks associated with opioid addiction and overdose death would prefer to access something like cannabis to help decrease the pain and make his wife more comfortable with zero risk of overdose. I think attitudes change when someone you love is suffering. Having control over one’s “choice” of therapy and access to natural alternatives shouldn’t be too much to ask. CANNABIS VS MEDICINE As medical cannabis becomes a hotter topic on the hill, the discussion of having doctors be in charge of medical cannabis has become a hot agenda item. This explains why the Texas Medical Association has offered limited support on suggesting cannabis as a therapy option for so many qualifying conditions. Even though there are plenty of research studies that have shown for years the safety and efficacy of cannabis as a drug for multiple conditions for both CBD and THC, the TMA still says “more needs to be done” through FDA analyzed studies. PERCEPTION VS REALITY Fears about cannabis are not based on facts; they are based on opinions and decades of political brain- washing with propaganda and misinformation. The combination of political posturing, law enforcement rhetoric, with the lack of medical cannabis knowledge has kept Texas far behind other states in legalizing medical cannabis for Texas patients. Mostly because Texans are more afraid of “the worst” than observing and investing in “the best” cannabis has to offer. Given all of the bad press on prescription drugs (which has been the number one cause of accidental death in the US since 2008), patients are looking for safer, more natural and less expensive alternatives to traditional synthetic pharmaceuticals. Based on clinical research, cannabis fits the bill! Our intention with this magazine is to help build the knowledge base for doctors, politicians, and law enforcement to become more aware of the desires of their patients and constituents wanting legal access to medical cannabis. Both doctors and politicians need to understand the movement and the legitimate science behind the hype. MD420 hopes to clear away some of the smoke (pun intended) around the topic so that we all make more educated decisions based on facts and research, not on fear, fiction or opinion. Our goal with MD420 is to broaden the awareness of medical cannabis and promote an educational platform to help doctors become aware of the real science behind it. We also want to offer strategic guidance on how Texas legislators SHOULD move forward in a collaborative effort WITH medical professionals, and avoid the failures of other states when rolling out medical cannabis laws for the state. WHERE POLITICS FAILS: A HISTORY TO AVOID Politicians are not doctors. They shouldn’t be dictating what patients should or should not have access to. Decades of political propaganda have created a false truth about cannabis that America is just now crawling out of. Political power combined with corporation interference, have kept medical cannabis at bay long enough, and based on the medical evidence now being presented by clinical research from all over the world, we are all finding out that we have been lied to for decades. Not only that, law enforcement to this day still preach- es the “dangers of this addictive drug” as a “gateway” to more dangerous and more addictive drugs. If you read the “Why is Cannabis Schedule 1?” article in the magazine, you will see that most politicians and law enforcement officials are clearly ignorant to the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know. We as a nation are now becoming increasingly aware that what was told to us years ago was not based on knowledge, but based on propaganda. In fact, when the truth was presented to President Nixon back in 1972 by the Shafer Commission Re- port, Nixon was quick to disregard the findings of the commission and still push forward with an “all out war” on marijuana. This was the initiation of the Schedule 1 drug status that still holds cannabis hostage today. The Shafer Commission was supposed to, according to actual quotes by President Nixon, urge marijuana decriminalization had a different agenda: “I want a Goddamn strong statement about marijuana. Can I get that out of this son of a bitch, uh, Domestic Council? I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.” In other words, Nixon was looking for proof of how dangerous and addictive marijuana- na was so it would back up his agenda. Little did he know that he was in for a huge surprise. The Shafer Commission conducted the most extensive and comprehensive examination of marijuana ever performed by the U.S. government. They re- corded thousands of pages of transcripts of formal and informal hearings, solicited all points of view, including those of public officials, community leaders, professional experts and students. They com- missioned a nationwide survey of public beliefs, information and experience. In addition, they con- ducted separate surveys of opinion among district attorneys, judges, probation officers, clinicians, university health officials and “free clinic” personnel. They commissioned more than 50 projects, ranging from a study of the effects of marijuana on man to a field survey of enforcement of the marijuana laws in six metropolitan jurisdictions. The false stigmas and truths that have been suppressed but the conservative politicians from the lone star state are not properly educated on medical cannabis enough to make evidence-based decisions. Here is what they found: FINDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MARIJUANA AND DRUG ABUSE INCLUDE: 1972 • “No significant physical, biochemical, or mental ab- normalities could be attributed solely to their marihuana smoking.” (National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, “Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding; First Report, Washington, DC, U.S. Govt. Print. Off, 1972, p. 61) • “No valid stereotype of a marihuana user or non-us- er can be drawn.” (p. 36) • “Young people who choose to experiment with marihuana are fundamentally the same people, socially and psychologically, as those who use alcohol and tobacco.” (p. 42) • “No verification is found of a causal relationship be- tween marihuana use and subsequent heroin use.” (p. 88) • “Most users, young and old, demonstrate an aver- age or above-average degree of social functioning, academic achievement, and job performance.” (p. 96) • “In sum, the weight of the evidence is that marihuana does not cause violent or aggressive behavior; if anything marihuana serves to inhibit the expression of such behavior.” (p. 73) • “In short marihuana is not generally viewed by participants in the criminal justice community as a major contributing influence in the commission of delinquent or criminal acts.” (p. 75) • “Neither the marihuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety.” (p. 78) • “Recent research has not yet proven that marihuana use significantly impairs driving ability or performance.” (p. 79) • “No reliable evidence exists indicating that marihuana causes genetic defects in man.” (p. 84) • “Marihuana’s relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on- society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it.” (p. 130) “The most notable statement that can be made about the vast majority of marihuana users – experiment- ers and intermittent users – is that they are essentially indistinguishable from their non-marihuana using peers by any fundamental criterion other than their marihuana use.” Angry that the report that was supposed to back up his “War on Drugs” and came back with the opposite findings…President Nixon took the report, literally threw it in the trash, and initiated the war that still battles on today. THE PAST IMPACT STILL FELT TODAY Texas, more so than any other state, is slow to respond. Even worse, we still have Texas politicians that to this day still believe, based on what they were told and grew up believing… have allowed their egos to manipulate their common sense. Belief still trumps evidence for the stubborn “conservative” leaders who still fight against 66% of the U.S. wanting legal cannabis… even though the evidence is right in front of them. The conclusion of the Shafer Commission rings true today: “That some of these original fears were un- founded and that others were exaggerated has been clear for many years. Yet, many of these early beliefs continue to affect contemporary public attitudes and concerns.” The impact of the marijuana laws has grown. In fact in recent years, the FBI has reported a re- cord number of marijuana arrests – last year 734,497 were arrested for marijuana, 80 percent for posses- sion, 20 From 1972-2000, 13,265,105 were Americans arrested on marijuana charges, 21 countless families have been destroyed by marijuana enforcement. To what end? The marijuana laws have not prevented nearly 80 million Americans from trying marijuana, nor have they prevented marijuana from becoming the most valuable cash crop in many states. FINAL COMMENTS: It is time for politics to get out of the way and let the economic, medical, and social benefits of cannabis, something that was used for thousands of years before prohibition, to be used in Texas. I fully expect several political leaders like Senator Menendez and Representative Reynolds, to try and share their stories and their common sense to their political equals, and especially Governor Abbott, to put their egos aside and go with evidence based decisions for legalizing medical cannabis for the lone star state. As stated in “Bringing Medicine to Cannabis”, Texas has the opportunity to create the first true medical cannabis program that is controlled by healthcare providers, certified by the state of Texas in cannabinoid science, and potentially supplied by certified pharmacies inspected by the state board of pharmacy for proper quality control. This model has been in place for decades and there is no real reason to change it to a dispensary model. MD420 fully supports keeping medical cannabis in the control of healthcare providers through a con- trolled pharmacy model. As time passes, we expect medical cannabis to be proven safe and effective for many medical conditions.