On Nov. 15, a new cannabis opinion poll was published by the Pew Research Center evaluating the landscape regarding legislation in the states. The DC-based non-partisan organization found that more than two-thirds of American citizens are expressing the viewpoint that federal cannabis prohibition should finally end.
In their latest study, Pew found that 67 percent are in support of legalization, up from 62 percent in 2018. The survey was also broken into age and unsurprisingly, Millennials represent the largest age group in favor of legalization, with 76 percent. The percentages slightly decrease when broken down by Generation X (65 percent) and Baby Boomers (63 percent). The poll also focused on partisan perspectives, finding that 78 percent of Democrats and Independents support legalization and 55 percent of Republicans are in favor. Overall, the percentage of adults who oppose legalization has fallen from 52 percent in 2010 to 32 percent today.
On Nov. 20, a historic vote was made by members of Congress. For the first time, a body of U.S. Congress voted on whether or not to end cannabis status as a federally prohibited substance. As reported, by a vote of more than two to one, members of the United States House Judiciary Committee passed the House Bill 3884: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.
The act removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing for states to enact their own cannabis laws without interference from the federal government. The MORE Act is the most comprehensive cannabis reform bill introduced to Congress and is backed by a variety of coalitions. Next, the piece of legislation could make its way onto the House floor for a vote before reaching the Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is an outspoken opposer of cannabis and has a history of blocking reform measures in the past.
On Nov. 25, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing CBD (cannabidiol). The letters were issued because the FDA found the companies in question to be violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The violations include the mis-marketing of products and the addition of CBD to human and animal foods. Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to treat a disease or have a therapeutic or medical use, is deemed a drug and must be approved by the FDA in order to market those claims accordingly. To date, the FDA has not approved any CBD products, outside of one prescription drug used to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Furthermore, companies who labeled CBD as a dietary supplement were also in violation of the FD&C Act, under which CBD does not meet the requirements to be labeled as such.
In addition to sending out warning letters, the FDA also issued a revised Consumer Update detailing safety concerns about CBD products. The report included certain reminders surrounding CBD, namely that there currently isn't enough scientific information supporting the safety of CBD or its effects on the body.
On Dec. 1, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow for the legal sale of recreational cannabis. As reported, officials in the state issued 18 licenses for the first day of sales, allowing for dispensaries to allocate some of their medical marijuana supply to be sold recreationally. On January 1, 2020, Illinois will become the next state in the Midwest to permit the legal sale of recreational cannabis. Finally, in January, more businesses are anticipated to open to further support the demand for recreational sales.