April 6, 2019

Marijuana Continues to Take Major Steps Forward

The last several weeks have seen major developments for marijuana policy, most prominent being news surrounding H.R. 1595, a bill from the U.S. House of Representatives written to give banks and insurers nationwide the ability to legally process cannabis transactions.

This bill has passed the House Financial Services Committee and will soon receive a full Congressional vote. If enacted, this bill could help facilitate more medical marijuana transactions in the healthcare system, increasing patient utilization within the healthcare system, including workers’ compensation.

And speaking of increasing marijuana utilization down the line, the FDA announced steps to advance the evaluation of potential regulation pathways for cannabis-containing and cannabis-derived products. These steps are being taken to lay the groundwork for the potential approval of more marijuana-based medications; if such FDA-approved medications entered the market, doctors would be more likely to prescribe or recommend marijuana.

Among the efforts the FDA is taking, they have announced a public hearing for May 31st to gather public comments and obtain scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.

This opportunity will give stakeholders from a wide range of professions the chance to provide the FDA with input relevant to regulatory strategy surrounding lawful pathways for marketing marijuana. This will include the gathering of information on mode of delivery, potency, affects, drug interactions, and more.

And on a state-by-state level, some states are considering legislation that would impact the use of marijuana in workers’ comp. Maryland Senate Bill 854 unanimously passed the Senate, bringing the state one step closer to requiring workers’ comp to cover medical marijuana. Other states have introduced similar bills, but this one seems to have made the most progress so far and is now headed to the Maryland House of Representatives.

Policies across the country continues to change as the public voices more and more support for marijuana. 62% of Americans support legalization, including 74% of millennials. In fact, marijuana use is rising among older populations, and marijuana support has grown so prevalent that CVS announced they will sell cannabidiol (CBD) products in 800 select stores across eight states.

The pharmacy chain will carry creams, sprays, lotions, and salves, hoping to meet consumer demand for alternative care options, while putting policies in place to test for THC and other contaminants. Shortly after this development, Walgreens announced they will sell CBD creams, sprays, and patches in 1,500 stores in nine states.

With so many developments, it seems unlikely this marijuana momentum will stop soon, meaning workers’ comp stakeholders must keep informed and be ready to handle changing times.

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