Feds Seek Contractor To Help Test Marijuana Compounds In People’s Breath | Big Indy News
Connect with us

Cannabis

Feds Seek Contractor To Help Test Marijuana Compounds In People’s Breath

Published

on

The federal government will spend more than $1.4 million to study how the concentration of marijuana compounds in people’s breath changes over time after consuming it, part of an ongoing effort to create a reliable roadside test to screen drivers for recent cannabis use.

In a brief “sources sought” notice posted last week, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. government, said it’s looking for an vendor capable of helping to conduct a study that would collect breath and blood samples, then test those samples for evidence of acute cannabis use—things like delta-9 THC, other cannabinoids and their metabolites.

“NIST intends to seek a contractor that will recruit participants to the study, collect breath samples from them after they use their own legal-market marijuana, and send those samples to NIST for laboratory analysis,” Richard Press, the agency’s acting director of media relations, told Marijuana Moment in an email. “The sources sought notice is to inform potential vendors of the requirements.”

Despite numerous efforts in the past decade to design and manufacture a device that works like a breathalyzer does for alcohol, there still exists no broadly accepted method to detect acute cannabis use in the field.

“As cannabis/marijuana use is legalized across the country, and knowing that its use can impair executive functions needed for driving, the need for a roadside technology to detect impairment from marijuana in drivers is critical.”

The upcoming study, dubbed Breath Measurements of Acute Cannabis Elimination, or BACE, “will look at how the concentration of cannabis compounds on a person’s breath changes in the hours after using marijuana,” Press said. “The study will not measure impairment, just concentrations of compounds in breath.”

The notice says the study will entail taking both baseline and experimental samples from subjects, both before and periodically after consuming cannabis. The measurements are aimed to account for the fact that cannabis users sometimes retain THC in their breath even after periods of abstinence.

“To resolve the challenges of determining recent cannabis use from a single breath sample, we propose a paradigm shift: two breath samples spaced a short interval apart,” says the project’s funding description. “Recent cannabis use would be distinguished from abstinence by a slope consistent with acute cannabis elimination.”

NIST will use the data “to investigate the feasibility of a two-point measurement that could be implemented at the roadside,” the funding description says. “The positive impact of this research on public safety will be a practical path towards a method that could be implemented at the roadside to chemically determine recent cannabis use.”

The description adds that “currently, it is impossible to draw a correlation between driving impairment and delta-9-terahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC) concentration in blood, which is the most reliable matrix with which to determine recent cannabis use.”

“We propose to collect breath samples from occasional and frequent cannabis users at 10-minute intervals during acute cannabis elimination, similar to the previous work, and during periods of abstinence, which has not been examined. The proposed paradigm shift depends on consistency in the collection of breath samples, therefore numerical modeling will characterize the influence of human (e.g. flowrate and volume) and device factors to improve the reproducibility of aerosol particle collection. We will analyze breath samples for Δ9THC, its metabolites, and other cannabinoids with high sensitivity analytical methods. We will employ urine analysis to classify users into occasional and frequent use populations and blood analysis to verify compliance with study protocols. Comprehensive statistical analyses will compare elimination profiles and abstinence profiles with different intervals (e.g., 10 minutes vs. 20 minutes) and will examine the multivariate response.”

A federal grant of $1.45 million will pay for the research. That money was approved as part of a part of a $14.4 million forensic-science spending package announced late last year.

Elected officials on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee said in June that they remain concerned about people driving under the influence of substances. They urged regulators to continue “efforts to ensure stakeholders can identify drug-impaired driving and enforce the law.”

In May, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) urged the Department of Transportation to reform its cannabis testing policies in light of the difficulty of determining recent use. He cited agency data showing that tens of thousands of truckers and other commercial drivers are penalized for using cannabis and noted that there’s no way to tell whether that use was days or weeks ahead of when they were tested.

The congressman told Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg that his department “should rapidly reform requirements for testing drivers and returning them to service, as well as develop an accurate test for impairment.”

Data on highway safety and cannabis legalization is highly contentious, in large part because of the difficulty of accurately measuring the amount of cannabis in a person’s system as well as its impact on driving ability.

A study published in 2019, for example, concluded that those who drive at the legal THC limit—which is typically between two to five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood—were not statistically more likely to be involved in an accident compared to people who haven’t used marijuana. But other studies have indicated possible increases in highway road deaths following adult-use legalization.

Yet other research has suggested that impaired driving actually goes down after legalization, at least according to self-reported surveys. A report published in April by the research nonprofit RTI International found that people were less likely to drive within three hours of consuming cannabis in states where some form of cannabis was legal.

Another study this year found that auto-insurance premiums decreased in states that legalized medical marijuana.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, signed a large-scale infrastructure bill late last year that included an amendment encouraging states that have enacted legalization laws—and only those states—to educate people about impaired driving. That measure was criticized by advocates who similarly want to discourage driving under the influence of cannabis but who also feel that any public education campaigns on the issue should be holistic, rather than singling out states that have legalized.

Officials have sometimes struggled to message their concerns about impaired driving. Last year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put out a PSA that featured a confusingly cool-looking cheetah smoking a joint while driving in what critics called a questionable effort to deter such activity.

In 2020, NHTSA and the Ad Council teamed up with Vox Creative for another ad that essentially told consumers that they shouldn’t drive while impaired—even if they’re being chased by a psychopathic axe murderer.

Experts and advocates have emphasized that evidence isn’t clear on the relationship between THC concentrations in blood and impairment.

Separately, the Congressional Research Service in 2019 determined that while “marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance…studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”

Another recent study found that smoking CBD-rich marijuana had “no significant impact” on driving ability, despite the fact that all study participants exceeded the per se limit for THC in their blood.

New Study Says Legalization Hasn’t Caused More Teens To Try Cannabis

Read the full article here

Cannabis

New Jersey Marijuana Regulators Approve Rules For Public Cannabis Consumption Areas

Published

on

New Jersey marijuana regulators approved rules for “public cannabis consumption areas” on Friday, bringing the state one step closer to providing the social use option to adults and patients.

Adult-use cannabis shops opened in April, but advocates have emphasized the need to implement regulations that give people additional spaces for where they can lawfully consume.

On Friday, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) moved closer to achieving that goal by approving requirements for the consumption sites and fees for businesses that operate them.

“Equitable access to cannabis means everyone who wishes to consume has some place they can do that—legally, safely, and responsibly,” CRC Chair Dianna Houenou said in a press release. “When regulated properly, cannabis consumption areas can strengthen the industry, while giving people more choices on where they consume.”

Food items could not be sold on-site under the draft rules, though people would be able to bring their own food or have it delivered. Alcohol and tobacco could not be sold or consumed at the cannabis consumption sites.

The proposed application fee and microbusiness and standard license fees for the facilities would be $1,000. They could operate indoors or outdoors, but the latter would need to be enclosed.

“I’m very excited that we’re pushing this forward because it is a safe space for consumers and patients,” one commissioner said ahead of the vote to approve the draft rules. “It’s definitely another stride for the commission, so I’m really excited that we were able to put this together on a timely manner.”

Before the rules are finalized, they will be posted in the New Jersey Register, after which point they will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.

CRC further approved 113 conditional cannabis licenses, eight annual licenses and six conversations from conditional to annual at their meeting on Friday.

The public consumption development in New Jersey comes just days after Nevada regulators announced the winners of the state’s first cannabis lounge licensees.

In 2019, Alaska became the first state to enact regulations that provide for the on-site use option at dispensaries.

Colorado followed suit with legislation approved that legalized cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments” where adults could freely use cannabis.

Social consumption sites are also provided for in New York’s recently enacted marijuana legalization law, though it’s not clear how long after the first retailers open that such activity will be authorized.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

In New Jersey, the governor also recently said that the state should “revisit” its current criminalization of homegrown marijuana for personal use—but he thinks that conversation should happen at a later point after the commercial market has matured.

In October, the New Jersey Assembly separately approved a bill that would allow licensed marijuana businesses to deduct certain expenses on their state tax returns, a partial remedy as the industry continues to be blocked from making federal deductions under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code known as 280E.

While the adult-use market is still developing, it’s already proven profitable, with the state reporting about $80 million in marijuana sales in the first ten weeks after retailers opened shop in April.

A bill filed by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D) over the summer would also authorize the governor to enter into agreements for interstate marijuana commerce with other states that have legalized cannabis. However, the agreements could only be forged if federal law changes, or if the Justice Department issues guidance permitting such activity.

The Senate president separately filed legislation to legalize psilocybin in New Jersey, and it includes provisions that would allow people to cultivate the psychedelic at home.

Biden Signs Marijuana Research Bill, A Historic First For Federal Cannabis Reform

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading

Cannabis

Biden Signs Marijuana Research Bill, A Historic First For Federal Cannabis Reform

Published

on

President Joe Biden has officially signed a marijuana research bill into law, making history by enacting the first piece of standalone federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history.

The bill cleared the House in April and the Senate last month, and a White House spokesperson confirmed to Marijuana Moment that the president intended to sign it. On Friday, he did just that.

The law gives the U.S. attorney general 60 days to either approve a given application or request supplemental information from the marijuana research applicant. It also creates a more efficient pathway for researchers who request larger quantities of cannabis.

The president remains opposed to federal cannabis legalization, but he campaigned on a number of more modest marijuana reforms, including promoting research, decriminalization and rescheduling cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Biden also issued a mass pardon for Americans who’ve committed federal marijuana possession cases in October and directed an administrative review into cannabis scheduling. The White House recently listed those actions among the “top accomplishments” for the president.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD) sponsored the House version of the research legislation, which is substantively identical to a Senate bill from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that previously cleared that chamber.

“Thank you to Representatives Blumenauer, Harris, Griffith, Joyce, Mace, and Perlmutter, Delegate Norton, and Senators Feinstein, Grassley, Schatz, Durbin, Klobuchar, Tillis, Kaine, Ernst, Tester, and Murkowski for their leadership,” the president said on Friday.

Blumenauer and Harris previously championed a separate cannabis research bill that advanced through their chamber in April. Unlike that legislation, however, the newly approved bill notably does not include a provision that scientists had welcomed that would have allowed researchers to access cannabis from state-legal dispensaries to study.

The research legislation further encourages the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop cannabis-derived medicines. One way it proposes doing so is by allowing accredited medical and osteopathic schools, practitioners, research institutions, and manufacturers with a Schedule I registration to cultivate their own cannabis for research purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is now mandated to approve applications to be manufacturers of marijuana-derived, FDA-approved drugs under the bill. Manufacturers will also be allowed to import cannabis materials to facilitate research into the plant’s therapeutic potential.

Another section requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to look at the health benefits and risks of marijuana as well as policies that are inhibiting research into cannabis that’s grown in legal states and provide recommendations on overcoming those barriers.

The bill further states that it “shall not be a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) for a State-licensed physician to discuss” the risk and benefits of marijuana and cannabis-derived products with patients.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis published in July found that the proposal would reduce direct spending by less than $500,000 and would have a “negligible net change in the deficit.”

There are only a few changes in this new bill compared to the original version the Senate passed earlier this year.

For example, the text now says that researchers won’t need to notify or receive a review from DEA if change study protocols, as long as they already have a Schedule I registration. The previous language said broadly that researchers wouldn’t need to reapply for approval. Also, the new version makes more explicit references to cannabis in the text, rather than “drug” generally.

Another revision deals with a section that mandates the attorney general to conduct an annual review of the supply of cannabis that’s available for research purposes. The new bill says DOJ must carry out that review in consultation with HHS, and says that the latter department will need to submit a report to Congress if it determines that the supply is inadequate.

Finally, a section of the original bill concerning the importation of CBD for research purposes was removed from the new measure.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Both the House and Senate passed earlier versions of their separate but similar cannabis research bills in late 2020, but nothing ended up getting to then-President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the last Congress.

Congressional researchers separately released a report in March that details the challenges posed by ongoing federal prohibition and the options that lawmakers have available to address them.

DEA has taken steps in recent years to approve new cultivators of marijuana to be used in studies, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently published a solicitation for applications from those authorized growers as it looks for new contractors to supply the agency with cannabis for research purposes.

Meanwhile, large-scale infrastructure legislation that was signed by Biden last year contains provisions aimed at allowing researchers to study the actual marijuana that consumers are purchasing from state-legal businesses instead of having to use only government-grown cannabis.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) sought an update this week on the status of a federal report into research barriers that are inhibiting the development of a standardized test for marijuana impairment on the roads, as required under that infrastructure legislation.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow told Marijuana Moment last year that scientists have been unnecessarily limited in the source of cannabis they’re permitted to study—and it makes sense to enact a policy change that expands their access to products available in state-legal markets.

Also, last month, congressional lawmakers held a hearing to discuss federal marijuana legalization and state cannabis developments, hearing testimony from a panel of broadly pro-reform advocates.

The chairman of the subcommittee that held that hearing also said on Tuesday that he will soon be introducing a bill aimed at protecting federal workers from being denied security clearances over marijuana.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) filed a bill last month that would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to access certain federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and services that are available to companies in any other industry.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 president election last month.

In a speech announcing his candidacy, Trump signaled that drug policy will be a focal point of his campaign—but not by advocating for reform. He talked about waging “war on the cartels” and working with Congress to pass legislation to impose the death penalty on “drug dealers” who are “responsible for death, carnage and crime.”

Biden’s Health Secretary Gives Update On Marijuana Scheduling Review Directed By The President

Read the full article here

Continue Reading

Cannabis

Biden’s Health Secretary Gives Update On Marijuana Scheduling Review Directed By The President

Published

on

The head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that the Biden administration is committed to supporting evidence-based policies for marijuana as it works to complete a review of federal cannabis scheduling that was directed by the president.

That science-focused approach also applies to policy decisions on other drugs, he said.

At an event on overdose prevention on Friday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra was asked about broad drug decriminalization efforts. And while he said that it isn’t within the department’s “jurisdiction” to make policy decisions like that, the government won’t be using “20th century modalities and ways of thinking to drive what we do if we have evidence that tells us we go a different direction.”

“We would not be the ones who would be proposing [decriminalization], but we certainly would weigh in on any issue involving decriminalization of any controlled substance,” he said before specifically addressing President Joe Biden’s marijuana scheduling directive.

“We’re going to take a look at what science tells us and what the evidence tells us,” Becerra, who has a considerable record supporting cannabis reform as a congressman and as California’s attorney general, said. “That will guide what we do—and we hope that will guide what the federal government does.”

Watch the discussion on marijuana and broader drug policy, starting around 27:40 into the video below:

 

Following the president’s cannabis pardons and scheduling announcement in October, the secretary said that the department would “work as quickly as we can” to carry out the scientific review. And he’s already discussed the issue with the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to that end.

More broadly on drug policy, the official said on Friday that, “at the end of the day, we should all be about keeping people alive and letting those people thrive.”

“At HHS, we took a turn with our new strategies on drug overdose and drug use, because we think at the end of the day, each one of our loved ones deserves a chance to, as I said, stay alive and thrive,” he said.

Becerra was joined at Friday’s event by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who also responded to the drug policy question.

The senator said that she’s “long supported decriminalization of marijuana,” going back to her time as a state lawmaker in Wisconsin. Her support is based on “a number of different reasons, including the ramifications when use and possession is criminalized,” she said.

“As a federal official now in the U.S. Senate, I am observing the fact that there is a lack of coordination as you have state after state that are reexamining their laws through referenda or through action in the state legislatures—that we have a conflict between federal law and state law,” Baldwin, who has cosponsored several marijuana reform bills over her tenure, including banking and legalization proposals, said.

Meanwhile, with respect to the president’s scheduling directive, the White House drug czar said recently that that the action was “historic,” adding that there are “clearly” medical benefits of cannabis.

Like HHS, DOJ has similarly committed to quickly carrying out the separate scheduling review the president directed, which could result in a recommendation to place cannabis in a lower schedule or remove it altogether, effectively legalizing the plant under federal law.

Separately, Biden recently cheered a move by Oregon’s governor to grant tens of thousands of marijuana pardons this week, which followed his own federal clemency action last month. And he says other states should “follow Oregon’s example.”

A White House spokesperson also told Marijuana Moment last month that the president intends to sign a bipartisan marijuana research bill that was recently passed by Congress.

A series of polls have shown that Americans strongly support the president’s pardon action, and they also don’t think that marijuana should be federally classified as a Schedule I drug.

DOJ Has Concerns About Marijuana Banking Bill, Newly Surfaced Memo Reveals, But Sources Say They’ve Been Resolved

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news directly to your inbox.


Trending