Skip links

Cannabis: Where we’ve been. Where we are. Where we’re going.

By Dana Rohrabacher, former U.S. Congressman and PharmaCielo Advisor

October 20, 2020 – Today, after decades of debate, obfuscation and political game-playing, we are in the midst of changes in U.S. laws and regulations that will at long last mark the end of America’s cannabis prohibition, which hung on far longer than did our prohibition of alcoholic beverages but has been just as nonsensical. The foundation for the restructuring of our nation’s drug policy is being laid now, and the next two years will see the cannabis industry, at home and abroad, emerge as an economic and cultural force globally … and especially here in the USA. Whoever is elected president, cannabis will be an agenda item for elected leaders at the federal, state and local level. Throughout the world a commercial and legal foundation will be put in place. Our moment has arrived.

These last two years have already been phenomenal. The Farm Bill (formally the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), for example, was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president in 2018. Growing, harvesting and processing hemp (cannabis) as part of the production of CBD oil and other products is now officially legal federally thanks to that bill.

There is a whole new generation of cannabis activists in Washington, D.C. actively laying the foundation of positive commercial uses of cannabis, especially in the health and medical arenas. One of them, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, is putting up a terrific fight to get the Senate to pass the “SAFE Banking Act,” passed by the House last year, which would bring some financial sanity and accountability to the cannabis industry and could lead to more cannabis companies being listed on the stock exchange.

One piece of legislation that will definitely be voted on is the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019). Rep. Jerry Nadler, a very combative Judiciary Committee chairman, is the author and, if passed, it will deschedule cannabis as a controlled substance, thus making legal the adult recreational use of marijuana. With 116 cosponsors, it will likely pass in the House but then, unfortunately, it is unlikely to even be brought up in the Senate . . . until next year that is.

The cause of cannabis freedom is now blessed with articulate and aggressive advocates. Republican congressmen like Florida’s Matt Gaetz and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie are champs as is Senator Rand Paul. Jerry Nadler and other Democrat leaders, like Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, are trying to make cannabis reform consistent with middle-class values rather than a counter-culture statement. Finally, Nancy Pelosi needs to be given credit for her unrelenting longtime support for cannabis reform.

One unifying aspect of the cannabis battle is that both Republicans and Democrats appreciate the potential health-related and medical benefits of CBD oil, a cannabis extract. More and more is being learned about the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, among others, of CBD oil. Senior citizens, with normal aches and pains, should be seen as the ultimate new domestic and global market for cannabis. The question of how to open new markets for our industry’s products now surpasses in importance the need to find new methods of using cannabis for health and/or recreational use.

The greatest concern for the cannabis industry, which is still in its formative stages, is that there is now a glut of CBD oil threatening the viability of cannabis companies large and small. There are several ways of dealing with this existential challenge to cannabis entrepreneurs. One, which I oppose, is preventing competitors from getting into or staying in the market, thus reducing supply. That leaves some high-quality producers out and some with lower standards in. That is no way to attract health-related consumers. As far as cannabis . . . competition is good, especially when it helps set higher standards of quality for an industry looking for more customers.

PharmaCielo, for example, has had a long time and a major commitment to the purity and reliability of its product. The company has heavily invested in technology and a team of science and agricultural professionals, which will serve the whole industry as it goes global and wins the trust of hundreds of millions of people who have never tried marijuana in any form. Opening the door to such revolutionary products is no easy task, and the best products the industry has to offer should not be fenced out. The investments already made by companies like PharmaCielo are serving the industry as a whole.

The customers are out there, but they must trust in the efficacy and quality of the once-illegal product they now will use to cope with personal ailments. It is companies like PharmaCielo that can offer the Japanese, for example, an innovative way to deal with their aches and pains. Japan’s aging population is a potential customer base that is huge beyond what anyone has calculated. Then there is infusing CBD into food and drink, here in the States or elsewhere, which will infuse money into our industry when it needs it the most. This positive approach will drain the CBD glut as it fills the coffers of entrepreneurs in this new era of human history. In short, we should focus on opening new markets rather than closing ours.

In short, even with the CBD glut there is ample reason for optimism. I have always advocated that cannabis should be treated like wine in terms of regulation and controls. After Prohibition ended it took a few years to put American wine back up front and make it the thriving, top-quality industry we know and appreciate today. The same will happen with cannabis, if we let it. I am happy to report that Congress looks like it got it right this time. What a miracle. Now we are waiting anxiously for the impact of the presidential election, but, clearly, whichever party wins, the cannabis policy, whether at the federal level or in the states, will get better, not worse. Our celebration should begin when our supposedly pro-cannabis politicos start implementing the changes they have advocated into our law.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 2019. A Republican, he represented California’s 48th congressional district for his last three terms. He has long been a stalwart supporter of cannabis legalization, speaking publically in support of both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization since 2013, based on his core conservative values and staunch support for states’ rights. As a long-time advisor to PharmaCielo, Rep. Rohrabacher shares his experienced insider perspective on the evolving U.S. cannabis legislation environment.