Congress: Veterans issues get airtime.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Brian Mast hosted a news conference on Thursday on the reintroduction of the Veterans Equal Access Act, a bill they co-sponsor. They’re also co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
The bill would allow Veterans Affairs physicians to recommend cannabis in jurisdictions where it’s already legal to do so.
Blumenauer and Mast talked about the increasingly “productive” conversations they’re having with Senate leadership.
“This is an issue of states’ rights in general,” Mast said.
Bluemenauer said that many colleagues in Congress have been “touched” by a veteran’s story, which also adds to the increased the likelihood that the bill will pick up momentum.
“Part of what has changed is that this notion of giving veterans equal access to other Americans is widely accepted. We’re seeing motion in a variety of states moving on medical cannabis, and if in those states, we’re talking about veterans, it’s like the 4th of July,” Blumenauer said.
And on Wednesday, Ohio Rep. Dave Joyce hosted a closed-door breakfast in Washington, D.C for newly-elected Republican representatives. While this specific breakfast happens every two years, this year, the “focus was on cannabis and the role the federal government can play in its regulation and policy,” according to the Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives.
Topics included the need for a federal approach to cannabis regulations, industry standards, and patient access.
“Although research is an incredibly important issue, the focus needs to remain on access, especially for the veteran community. It is abundantly clear that the pharmaceutical strategies being employed to treat our conditions are not working. Veterans in every state need real, viable options to heal. These options should be open for discussion and available to us through our local VA,” said VAHA executive director Gary Hess, who was invited to speak.
• Gary Hess, Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives (VAHA)
• Andrew Freedman, Coalition for Cannabis Policy Education and Regulation (CPEAR)
• Lewis Koski, Metrc
• Pete Meachum, U.S. Hemp Roundtable
• Jeremiah Mosteller, Americans for Prosperity
• Jillian Snider, R Street
• Matt Stanton, Constellation Brands
A fireside chat on the Hill puts SAFE Banking in focus.
A fireside chat this week with Rep. Troy Carter, former Sen. Cory Gardner, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer focused on the SAFE Banking Act, how far it’s come, and what’s needed to push it over the finish line to passage.
The tone of the conversation was very light, with plenty of jokes. (“The best thing about being out of Congress is I just don’t care if I wear a tie,” Gardner said to much laughter.) Gardner, you might remember, was a SAFE Banking champion in the Senate before retiring. Gardner said that, with banks, credit unions, and farm groups talking about SAFE Banking, it’s become a “real deal, legitimate issue.”
Blumenauer swung by the chat and said that he’s convinced that the 60 votes needed in the Senate are already there. Carter agreed, saying that if the SAFE Banking Act was put on the Senate floor today, “it would pass.”
Last December, the SAFE Banking Plus legislation, as it become known, was the subject of intense negotiation and teetered at the edge of being included in broader spending and defense bills, but ultimately didn’t.
“We made more progress than we’ve ever made in the last Congress. Close but no cigar. But I’m hopeful that we will be able to pick up where we left off. We’re awaiting, frankly, for the Senate to massage the final version, and that will be the vehicle we’ll use in the House,” Blumenauer said.
“Sometimes Congress approaches things through the lens of ‘how do you solve a small problem by making it bigger.’ And so you add a whole bunch of things in it, and then everybody has something, and then you pass it,” Carter said.
“This is a situation where I think if you put something on the floor that had negotiation and agreement, buy in, like SAFE did at the end of the year, it will pass. And we can keep doing more. But doggone it, it’s the easiest, safest position for Congress to take is to do nothing. So let’s make ’em vote.”
How much waste does cannabis production create? (A lot.)
Researchers from The University of Auckland conducted a study that examined the “waste produced throughout the medicinal cannabis products production life cycle.”
The study estimated that, globally, 1,754 tons of fresh waste or 520 tons of dry weight waste was produced by legal cannabis production in 2020.
Green Relief NZ Ltd provided some funding for the study.
“With the cannabis industry growing substantially, effective waste management is vital. Current legislation generally requires the complete destruction of the THC or to render the substance impossible or improbable to be used for consumption, installing necessary challenges for cannabis waste management,” researchers concluded.
“Although most of these technologies can be used for other types of waste, such as tea leaves, coffee beans etc., it is imperative for the cannabis industry to examine these waste management methods as legislation decreases the opinions for cannabis waste management.”