Although more than 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and lawmakers are now working on legislation to federally deschedule cannabis, the industry has constantly been weighed down by prohibition. Thanks to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level, federal agencies tend to take a hard line against the substance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) has in the past taken such a stance, unequivocally stating that its grant funds cannot be used to buy, prescribe and provide cannabis or treatment via medical marijuana.
However, cannabis reform activists will be happy to know that the SAMHSA recently softened the grant funding restrictions concerning medical cannabis. On Aug. 2, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (“PDDAP”) noted that there had been a change in the language regarding organizations that are eligible to receive federal grants from the SAMHSA. Specifically, a recent memo from PPDAP stated that new wording had invalidated the medical cannabis restrictions, stating that SAMHSA’s policy no longer contained language prohibiting the use of grant funds for anything medical marijuana-related.
The first clause containing medical cannabis restrictions was added in 2020 and carried over to the 2021 version of the policy. However, on June 2, PDDAP officials released a memo arguing that SAMHSA’s policy, especially regarding medical marijuana, could put health funding in jeopardy. Included in the memo was a SAMHSA FAQ page, which was dated Jan. 1, 2020, and confirmed the federal agency’s stance on medical cannabis. The final question stated that the organization could not serve patients who insisted on using medical marijuana to address a mental or substance use disorder.
According to the organization, it would only promote evidence-based practices, and there was no evidence that cannabis could alleviate mental or substance use disorders. Furthermore, SAMHSA argued, there was an increasing amount of evidence showing that cannabis could aggravate mental health symptoms rather than alleviate them.
In 2019, the agency announced that it would not provide grant money to help battle opioid addiction if treatment involved consuming cannabis or cannabis products. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, who has served as the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Mental Health and Substance Use from 2017, says the medical marijuana restrictions were meant to deter individuals looking for treatment services from seeing cannabis as a tried and tested treatment.
However, now that SAMHSA has eased medical cannabis restrictions, medical cannabis programs will not be deprived of grant funding. This means good news for the industry as scientists delve deeper into cannabis’ capabilities and side effects, and more states launch medical cannabis markets.
This modification of policy clears up some of the concerns that clients of cannabis companies such as Hero Technologies Inc. (OTC: HENC) have had over being caught in the middle between the medical cannabis laws of their states and the prohibitive federal policies.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Hero Technologies Inc. (OTC: HENC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/HENC
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