Conversation with David Young on H.R.2920

On Monday, December 11, 2017, I spoke with Congressman Young about H.R.2920 (CARERS Act of 2017).  Congressman Young is a co-sponsor of H.R.2920, and he was a co-sponsor of H.R.1538 (CARERS Act of 2015).

Both the 2015 and 2017 versions of the CARERS Act:

  • recognize an exemption from federal scheduling for state medical marijuana programs;
  • remove cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana, placing it at the end of a list of exemptions for industrial hemp;
  • create a federal definition of cannabidiol which is nearly identical to the federal definition of hemp, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 (no more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis); and
  • give Attorney General Jeff Sessions the right to determine whether a state is in compliance with this new federal definition of cannabidiol.

Beyond the fact that creating an exemption for state medical marijuana programs that does not include cannabidiol seems contradictory, between 2015 and 2017 Iowa created a state definition of cannabidiol that differs significantly from the federal definition of hemp.

Iowa Code § 124E.2(6) (2017) defines cannabidiol as “any pharmaceutical grade cannabinoid found in the plant Cannabis sativa L. or Cannabis indica or any other preparation thereof that has a tetrahydrocannabinol level of no more than three percent” (3 percent is 10 times higher than 0.3 percent and cannabidiol is just one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant).

I asked Congressman Young to amend the bill by removing the references to cannabidiol.  If the federal government wants to make cannabidiol a prescription drug, that’s fine.  But, currently there are no federally approved cannabidiol products.  States must be able to define cannabidiol’s medical use within their own states.

The federal government cannot have it both ways.  As the U.S. Supreme Court put it so eloquently in New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 161 (1992):

Congress may not simply “commandeer the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.” Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U.S. 264, 288 (1981).

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