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Federal lawmakers received an overwhelming number of public responses to the draft of a bill that would deschedule cannabis and allow states to make their own policies going forward. Now that the period for public comment is over, advocates are waiting anxiously to see the final version of the bill.

A lengthy draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act was released in July by the bill’s sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR). If made law the bill would deschedule cannabis, expunge marijuana convictions, give states control over local marijuana policies and remove collateral consequences. It would also tax the sale of cannabis products to fund equity programs.

Prior attempts to decriminalize or legalize cannabis at the federal level, like those championed by Booker in years past, have all been unsuccessful; but while the current bill has its fair share of skeptics, the media frenzy and anticipation surrounding it has left many advocates feeling hopeful that there will be more legislative pressure for reform this time around.

In the days leading up to the last presidential election, Schumer promised that he would make marijuana legalization a priority if the Democrats took the Senate. Following statements from the Biden administration that indicated that the president would not support cannabis legalization, Schumer told Politico that the Senate would pursue a legislative solution with or without Biden’s support. The senator followed through with his promise when he joined Booker and Wyden in releasing a draft of the bill and asking for public comment.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act’s chances seem even better now than they did two months ago. The senators’ call for comment was reportedly met with a massive response from individuals and advocacy groups like NORML, Marijuana Policy Project, Marijuana Justice Coalition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Americans for Safe Access and a number of others. While most supported the bill, they offered many recommendations for future versions, including requests for regulatory clarification and heightened focus on the expungement of marijuana convictions and the release of prisoners.

Now advocates must wait to see how the senators will respond to the recommendations and what the bill’s ultimate fate will be. The Democrats only have a slim lead in the Senate, and it’s unclear how many of them support the bill as it currently stands.

Study: Psychedelics Might Treat Racial Trauma

A recently published study claims that symptoms of psychological trauma among Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) stemming from systemic racism can be mitigated with the therapeutic application of psilocybin, LSD or MDMA.

“One form of trauma underrepresented in empirical investigations is racial trauma,” wrote the authors of a study published in the journal Chronic Stress, “defined as traumatization due to distressing experiences that can include physical or psychological threats to oneself or witnessing such threats to another based on race or ethnicity.”

The study analyzed survey data collected from 313 BIPOC in the U.S. and Canada who had used a psychedelic and reported experiencing relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD resulting from racial discrimination. Participants were asked to report the type of drug used, the age at which it was taken, the dose and the length of the experience. They were also asked to rate how “challenging” the experience was—whether it was associated with feelings of grief, fear, insanity, death, isolation, physical distress or paranoia.

Researchers found that acute psychedelic effects, “specifically greater intensity of acute insight and lower intensity of challenging experience,” were correlated with improvements in psychological flexibility and racial trauma symptoms. “These findings add to a growing literature indicating a central role for acute subjective effects of psychedelics in influencing subsequent mental health outcomes, and suggest that psychological flexibility may be an important factor related to those outcomes,” wrote the study’s authors.

The researchers concluded that the results were promising and that more research in the area needs to be conducted. They stressed that psychedelics might treat the symptoms of psychological trauma related to systemic racism, but they won’t treat the cause.

Mexico Legislature Gives Pot Stocks a Bump

Last week three leading cannabis stocks saw gains following the announcement that Mexican legislators will once again debate regulations around a retail adult-use market.

Stocks Sundial Growers, Tilray and Aurora Cannabis saw respectable gains last week as Mexico began its legislative session. The country’s lawmakers have been struggling to legislate cannabis reform following the 2018 Mexico Supreme Court ruling that marijuana prohibition was unconstitutional. Lawmakers were ordered to legislate regulations for possession and cultivation.

Since the ruling, the nation’s lawmakers have allowed the issue to flounder whenever it has come up, leaving the drug unregulated. Proposals were introduced, but deadlines for approval were repeatedly missed as lawmakers argued over details. In June of this year, Mexico’s Supreme Court acted and decriminalized cannabis on its own, killing the country’s cannabis prohibition laws and giving citizens over 18 the ability to apply for a permit to possess the drug.

The ruling placed legal pressure on the country’s lawmakers to immediately enact legislation. Sen. Julio Ramón Menchaca Salazar tweeted last week that laws guiding the regulation of cannabis would be addressed during the legislative session.

Applications Roll In

According to an interview with KOAT, N.M. Regulations and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo said that nearly 900 applications from producers were received by the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) last week.

The CCD only recently began accepting applications for producer licenses, and the response has been spectacular. “So far, we have a total of 897 initial applications,” Trujillo told reporters last week.

The division says it plans to approve as many applications as it can. “Applications for licensure are not going to close,” said Trujillo. “And the number of licensees is not limited.”

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