New Cannabis Industry Standards May Help Keep Feds at Bay: Guest Column

New Cannabis Industry Standards May Help Keep Feds at Bay: Guest Column

Self-regulatory organizations are a testament to true democracy in action.

July 11, 2018
Andrew Kline

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Cannabis Dispensary. To subscribe, click here.

As of May, medicinal cannabis was legal in 30 states plus the District of Columbia, with nine states and D.C. having legalized recreational cannabis. At the same time, it remains federally illegal. That dichotomy translates into great uncertainty for those who make a living cultivating, processing or selling the plant and creates a regulatory vacuum.

While the federal government routinely issues safety regulations related to food and drugs, transportation, occupational health, consumer products and myriad other issues, those regulations interpret the will of Congress in passing related legislation. Without federal legislation legalizing marijuana, there is no Congressional intent to interpret. Therefore, regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and any other federal agencies with potential stakes in the cannabis industry are virtually non-existent.

Because of that void, many of the most reputable licensed cannabis companies are taking it upon themselves to establish national standards in lieu of federal guidance. The process became a bit more complicated earlier this year when Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, which previously provided the industry with some level of understanding regarding the federal government’s priorities.

Still, many licensed cannabis companies feel they just need to abide by state law and regulation. That view is short-sighted. Other growers, processors and dispensary owners are taking control of their destinies, however. By going beyond what is required of them at the state level, these leading, licensed businesses will demonstrate to banks, insurance companies and other professional organizations that they are trustworthy. Simultaneously, they will pro-actively demonstrate to the DEA, FDA, Department of Justice (DOJ) and other relevant government agencies that they are doing everything that they can, notwithstanding the uncertainty that exists, to align with the priorities of our federal government to protect its citizens.

How? Those interested in being uber-compliant are working with self-regulatory organizations (SROs) to anticipate the priorities of the federal government, including prohibiting youth use, diversion and drugged driving. It’s a testament to true democracy in action.

To read the full article in Cannabis Dispensary's June 2018 issue, click here.

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