The Quick Introduction to Modern Pot Politics


Hi! Welcome to the 6th edition of Boomtown, our newsletter written and published every Friday at exactly 4:20 p.m. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. As of this writing, not only are we completely blazed out of our minds, it also feels as if the cold coffees on our desks have become a part of ourselves, almost as if it were calling out to us from afar as a sibling. Today’s edition seeks to understand the essence of interpreting a plant’s value by different sets of people at the same time across different generations.

Human Regulation of Chemistry

As Cannabis begins its long march towards capitalism, governments and state regulators need to understand the relationship they need to cultivate with the plant for the betterment of their countries’ populations’ economic and social prosperity. Not only is this process of utmost importance for humanity, it is so because the practical and economic applications of the plant are just too many to ignore. The United States has always acted as an ‘anchor’ (due to its influence in the United Nations and financial aid to multiple countries) with regards to cannabis’ modern prohibition era which began from the beginning of the 20th century, aided in no small part by racism, hate and propaganda. 

The current regulatory issue pertaining to cannabis in the United States can be summed up as below:

  • THC and CBD are the two most well known cannabinoids, among 200 odd others in the cannabis plant.  
  • The United States’ Food and Drug Administration is confused

Like any government regulatory authority that formulates rules, regulations and standards for private companies to adhere to before entering the consumer markets, the FDA would probably be in the process of talking to botanists, nutritionists, doctors and other researchers, in addition to undertaking their own market research to survey the general public about their opinions of cannabis and its compounds. But the FDA is still confused. 

Here’s New Frontier Data talking about it: 

“The CBD industry is struggling: Amid disruption by the COVID-19 outbreak and supply-chain shortages, the industry also finds itself mired in regulatory uncertainty due to a ponderous attitude by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regulating CBD. At the heart of the issue for the FDA is whether CBD should be allowed as a dietary supplement or limited as a pharmaceutical ingredient.

Before going any further we need to remember the fact that THC’s reputation of producing psychoactivity ends up ‘shadowing’ the other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG and the rest. This is an unfortunate psychological bias, and cannabis’ dual role in being both medicinal and dietarily nutritious is what lies at the heart of the regulators’ confusion regarding its classification.

“For its part, the FDA finds itself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there is already massive consumer interest in CBD. New Frontier Data estimates that approximately 73 million Americans will purchase CBD by the end of 2020. On the other hand, the FDA is concerned about the safety of CBD. In an update to consumers, the FDA outlined many of its concerns regarding CBD, including how the substance interacts with other drugs, its effect on liver function, and the long-term effects of continued use.”

“Not content to wait for the FDA’s decision, several federal lawmakers have acted by introducing a bill to regulate CBD. Introduced by U.S. Reps Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 (H.R. 8179) would allow CBD and other nonintoxicating hemp derivatives to be sold as dietary supplements, while requiring manufacturers to comply with current regulations governing dietary supplements.” 

The bill is unlikely to pass before the November Elections in the United States post which a new Congress would read the bill afresh. 

The Indian Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) would be watching this with keen interest, especially since FSSAI was quite progressive in allowing CBD products to be used by professional Indian athletes for dietary purposes. Their guidance note from 2019 states the same.

The Great Indian Cannabis Law

Many things have been said of the dichotomy that exists when it comes to the consumption of cannabis in India, which purportedly is because of its three main forms of consumption in India – bhang, ganja and charas. The law that governs all, the NDPS Act, permits the former while prosecuting users ‘guilty’ of the consumption of the latter two. Such a law could exist in only a country like India where both traditional and western influence exists side by side, a trait that often mirrors Indian society from time to time, often resulting in clashes of thoughts, values and opinions. 

Here’s Vrinda singh Oberoi, who is an ex- corporate lawyer turned chef and works in food policy, writing:

“Back in 1961, the International Treaty Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs classed cannabis with hard drugs. Proud of its culture and history, the Indian delegation opposed it on the basis of intolerance to the social and religious customs of India. As a compromise, the Indian Government promised to limit the export of Indian hemp.

“The final draft of the treaty defined cannabis as “the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops) from which the resin has not been extracted, by whatever name they may be designated.” This kept Bhang out of the legal definition of Cannabis and paved the way for its sale, often at government shops, and consumption in many states across India. We won a battle of semantics since there is no chemical distinction between bhang, marijuana, weed, ganja, or charas.”

Keeping seeds and leaves out of the definition of cannabis by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985, is today the legal basis of the existence of India’s pioneering medical cannabis companies.

Let’s keep blazing

Have a great weekend 🙂

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