How Will The Federal Government Regulate Cannabis? We Have a Plan.
By Bethany Moore
October 1, 2019
/ Education

How Will The Federal Government Regulate Cannabis? We Have a Plan.

by Andrew Kline, NCIA’s Director of Public Policy

NCIA could not be more proud of the collective efforts of the cannabis industry in passing SAFE Banking legislation in the House. Last week was a truly historic moment for the industry. Now, on to the Senate!

While we always relish in victories, we can’t lose momentum, and we need to start thinking about what comes next. As luck (and a bit of hard work) would have it, NCIA has a plan. While NCIA has been fully supportive of incremental steps like SAFE Banking, we believe that the only long-term viable path forward for this industry is descheduling. It’s the only way to solve social equity, it’s the best way to fix 280E, it’s the way that we start looking at cannabis through a public health lens (instead of a criminal enforcement lens), it fixes issues around interstate commerce, and it’s the only way to end the unsustainable federalism clash.

In addition to de-scheduling, our plan calls for cannabis products, like other highly regulated consumables, to be regulated by the government agencies that currently regulate most food and drugs, primarily the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Under our plan, cannabis products would be divided into four categories, based on chemical components, safety, intended use, and consumption method. Each of these groups would be regulated through a separate regulatory “lane” tailored to the public policy issues raised by that particular classification. The four lanes are:

Lane #1 — Pharmaceutical drugs (e.g., Epidiolex; Marinol)

(Regulated Like Prescription/OTC Drugs; Lead Federal Regulator: FDA) 

Lane #2 — Ingested, inhaled, or topically applied products with more than de minimis amounts of THC (+0.3%)

(Regulated Like Alcohol; Lead Federal Regulator: TTB) 

Lane #3 — Ingested and inhaled products with de minimis amounts of THC (<0.3% THC) (e.g., CBD, CBN, and CBG)

(Regulated Like Food/Dietary Supplements; Lead Regulator: FDA)

Lane #4 — Topically applied products with de minimis amounts of THC (<0.3% THC) (e.g., CBD, CBN, and CBG topicals)

(Regulated Like Cosmetics; Lead Federal Regulator: FDA)

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We firmly believe that our plan sets the stage for the weeks and months ahead. We hope that lawmakers will heed our call for de-scheduling and federal regulation. There is no other viable option for the burgeoning cannabis industry. As always, NCIA stands ready to provide technical assistance to lawmakers and to the Executive Branch as we forge ahead. There is no stopping us now.

If you’re interested in working on public policy issues like this one, please reach out to me to inquire about the Policy Council. We are the think tank for cannabis and we’re just getting started. 


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