September 5, 2014

There are a few remarkable moments in history when social policy change visibly reaches a turning point. Very recently, we saw such a turning point in the movement to legalize marijuana, when the editorial board of the New York Times (NYT) published their editorial entitled Repeal Prohibition, Again. The article specifically calls on the Federal Government to repeal the ban on cannabis and dives deeply into the expensive hypocrisy that is cannabis prohibition. In response to the NYT article, the Office of National Drug Control Policy fired back with ill formed arguments on the addiction rates and fatalities associated with cannabis.

Regardless . . . the Feds consider legalizing low level thc strains for medicinal purposes

The Federal government is looking into changing their drug policy to allow certain strains of medicinal cannabis. Currently, there is a bill in the House of Representatives to be proposed which would legalize marijuana with low levels of THC. Backers of the bill have seen the benefits from using medical cannabis as a treatment for certain ailments, such as epilepsy. Thus, this new bill proposes to amend the current Controlled Substances Act, and to allow for cannabis strains with a low percentage of THC.

Scientific facts

Why cannabis with a low level of THC? THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in cannabis, which, when taken, latches onto the brain and gives the “high” sensation. THC carries some medicinal purposes, such as pain relief and working as an anti-inflammatory. But the federal government is not concerned with the effects of THC in the body but more interested in the effects of CBD, another chemical compound in cannabis.

CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical compound in cannabis that can quiet excessive electrical and chemical signals in the brain. CBD is beneficial to those who suffer from seizures or epilepsy. Studies and reports have shown that the cannabis oils with a higher concentration of the CBD chemical compound have been helping children with epilepsy lessen their seizures drastically.

Legal facts

The bill called the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014, is being proposed by Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania), Paul Brown (R-Georgia) and Steven Cohen (D-Tennessee). The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act, which currently bunches cannabis with cocaine and heroin as a Schedule I narcotic. The Controlled Substances Act would be amended to legalize cannabis strains with THC content of less than 0.3 percent for medical purposes.

The bill’s name came from a case in Colorado, where the parents of a young girl named Charlotte Figi’s campaigned nationwide for easier access to medical marijuana after they controlled their daughter’s seizures with cannabis oil. Many other families in similar situations have uprooted their lives to go live in Colorado and seek treatment for themselves and/or their loved ones. Perry believes families should not be separated or take such drastic measures to seek treatment and thus has proposed the bill, but not without obstacles.

Battles for MMJ Legalization

Fortunately, besides the battle between the NYT and the Feds, to further define the uses of cannabis, hemp can now be grown for academic and research purposes. However, that has not stopped the DEA from seizing cannabis being transported to research facilities. Reactively, the Appropriations Committee has passed another amendment that stops funding the DEA for anti- cannabis enforcement.

It’s looking like the cannabis legalization campaign has gained impressive wind in its sails and legalization is a real possibility on the federal level, whether it be for medicinal purposes or just full legalization!

Meital Manzuri is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney, speaker and consultant for patients, collectives and dispensaries. If you have questions about medical cannabis or any other criminal defense matters, she can be contacted via phone at (310) 601-3140 or

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Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.