National Cannabis Laboratory Council Urges Scientific Engagement Following Release of HHS FOIA Documents on Cannabis Rescheduling

These documents shed light on the FDA’s recommendation to classify cannabis as a Schedule III substance

NCLC Spotlights HHS FOIA Document Release on Cannabis Rescheduling

The National Cannabis Laboratory Council (NCLC), a coalition of cannabis lab scientists and scientific- and medical-focused ancillary operators, wants to draw attention to the release of documents by the HHS following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. These documents shed light on the FDA’s recommendation to classify cannabis as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

FDA Recommends Cannabis as Schedule III Substance

This development aligns with the NCLC's mission to promote the dissemination of critical data for informed decision-making and science-based national lab testing standards for cannabis products to facilitate interstate commerce and ensure public health and consumer safety. Given that 38 states, three territories and the D.C. have established medical cannabis markets, where doctors are recommending cannabis for a variety of ailments to a combined 3.8 million patients, it's evident that cannabis is being used medically. This reality should encourage a reevaluation of how "current medical use" is defined, moving beyond the traditional drug pathway that relies on clinical trials to adapt to evolving medical practices and the widespread medical use of cannabis.

Research Opportunities and Regulatory Implications

A move to Schedule III would significantly ease the restrictions on cannabis research, enabling more comprehensive scientific studies. However, it's important to note that while regulatory requirements might be eased, procedural hurdles at the DEA could still impede research progress. Furthermore, the FDA might assume a more hands-on role in regulating cannabis products, which could introduce new complexities and operational costs for cannabis businesses.

Emphasis on Data-Driven Regulation

The recent recommendation by the FDA to classify cannabis as a Schedule III substance signifies a major shift in the regulatory approach towards cannabis, one that resonates strongly with the National Cannabis Laboratory Council's (NCLC) mission. This decision is a testament to the importance of data-driven policies in determining the classification and regulation of substances.

The NCLC, renowned for its rigorous approach to collecting and analyzing laboratory data on cannabis, views this development as a crucial acknowledgment of the need for scientifically sound regulation. This change is particularly significant, as it reflects an official recognition of the medical utility of cannabis. Historically, the debate around cannabis has been hampered by the absence of comprehensive, federally approved research. The reclassification opens up new avenues for such research, thereby addressing a long-standing gap in the understanding of cannabis and its effects.

This pivotal moment provides the NCLC with an opportunity to further advocate for standardized, data-driven regulatory practices across states. The emphasis on lab testing and product safety standards becomes more pertinent than ever. The NCLC's expertise in these areas positions it to play a key role in guiding the development of policies that are not only grounded in scientific evidence but also ensure the safety and quality of cannabis products. As states potentially adjust their regulations to align with the new federal stance, the NCLC’s role in promoting uniform testing procedures and safety standards will be crucial in shaping a consistent regulatory environment.

The alignment of the FDA's decision with the NCLC's objectives underscores the importance of basing policy decisions on solid scientific data. It also highlights the NCLC’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that cannabis products meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

NCLC Advocates for Standardized Lab Testing Requirements

The NCLC's mission to establish standardized testing procedures in the cannabis industry is a requirement in order to provide reliable data for building effective, safe, and fair policy frameworks.

The FDA's acknowledgment of cannabis' medicinal value is a validation to the medical potential of cannabis often claimed by the industry's professionals, and by voters in states where cannabis is now legal medicinally. The necessity for uniform testing standards is the next logical step forward. The NCLC has long championed the cause of ensuring that cannabis products are tested rigorously to maintain the highest levels of quality and safety. The organization's role in advocating for these standards is now more crucial than ever. As federal and state regulations evolve to adapt to this new classification, the NCLC's expertise and data-driven approach will be instrumental in assisting with the development of these policies.ww

The NCLC is poised to provide critical insights and data to support the development of these regulations. By advocating for standardized testing procedures, the council aims to ensure that the quality and safety of cannabis products are maintained across different states. This is not just about regulatory compliance; it’s about safeguarding public health and consumer safety. Standardized testing procedures will be key in fostering a consistent, reliable, and safe cannabis market.

Implications for Cannabis Research and Medical Use

The NCLC views the FDA's recommendation as a pivotal moment in cannabis regulation, where a leading scientific federal government agency has acknowledged that cannabis has medicinal value and a lower misuse potential than other substances in Schedule I and II. With the potential DEA rulemaking process and 60-day public comment period, the NCLC encourages its members and the broader community to engage actively. This period represents a crucial opportunity for stakeholders to submit scientific and evidence-based comments, influencing the future of cannabis regulation and ensuring public safety.

NCLC Recognizes the Potential for Interstate Cannabis Commerce

The National Cannabis Laboratory Council (NCLC) recognizes that reclassification of cannabis could be a catalyst for expanding interstate commerce of cannabis products, an area where the NCLC's commitment is deeply rooted. The move towards a Schedule III classification not only signifies a shift in regulatory perception but also opens the doors to a more expansive and regulated cannabis market across state lines.

The NCLC's advocacy for unified testing standards is crucial in this context. As interstate commerce becomes a more tangible reality, ensuring that cannabis products crossing state borders meet consistent quality and safety standards is paramount. This is where the NCLC's expertise in laboratory testing standards and data analysis becomes invaluable. The council's role in defining and advocating for these standards is expected to significantly influence the formulation of policies governing the safe and effective distribution of cannabis products nationwide.

This potential increase in interstate trade, facilitated by a change in cannabis's legal status, presents an opportunity to establish a more traditional and secure market. The NCLC's commitment to public health and consumer safety is at the forefront of this development.

By ensuring that products comply with stringent testing criteria, the council aims to assist with the necessary testing and labeling components that allows the market to thrive commercially, builds trust, and upholds reliable standards for public health and safety. The NCLC is well equipped and ready to take on the challenge. While there are other challenges, such as cannabis banking, together we can all help one another through sensible and reliable policy.

We urge all members of the scientific and medical communities to stay informed and participate in shaping a future where cannabis regulation is grounded in robust scientific standards and practices.


[email protected]

About the NCLC:

Formed in 2021, the National Cannabis Laboratory Council is a volunteer coalition dedicated to fostering a culture of collaboration and advocating for uniform testing standards in the cannabis industry. The NCLC is committed to compiling and sharing analytical cannabis laboratory data and to champion the adoption of harmonized testing procedures. This commitment is underscored in our white paper, which advocates for a data-driven, unified testing approach across states, critical for public health and safety in the context of advancing federal legalization.

National Cannabis Laboratory Council Urges Scientific Engagement Following Release of HHS FOIA Documents on Cannabis Rescheduling
S3 Collective December 13, 2023
Share this post