Importing Cannabis Into The United States

If you’re taking the time to read this post, it is likely that you are an up-and-coming international cannabis company like https://www.koalitymedicinals.com/ that seeks to sell your medicinal cannabis product for medical purposes in the United States of America. While this is no easy task, the good news is that it is more possible today than it has ever been. The difficulty your company will experience in importing the product will depend greatly on two factors: the chemical construction and medicinal value of your product with whom you seek distribution.

Before you can seek distribution, your cannabis product must follow FDA protocol and yield favorable results that eventually lead to FDA approval. This will depend greatly on the chemical construction of your product. There are five major cannabinoids in medical marijuana that relieve symptoms. Each one produces different psychological and physical effects. [1] The balance of these effects and the total medicinal value and risk of abuse is weighed by the FDA when ruling on approval.

The good news is that there is now a company that will import your international cannabis product for research and trials that could eventually lead to approval and ultimately commercial distribution. As of December 3rd, 2015, the Department of Justice published in the Federal Register a notice of registration for Catalent CTS, LLC., that grants them permission to import finished pharmaceutical marijuana products containing cannabis extracts in dosage form for clinical trial studies that could lead to the sought after FDA approval. [2]

The uprising of companies such as Catalent CTS wouldn’t have been possible without various memorandums from the DOJ issuing guidance regarding marijuana enforcement in states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal under state law. On October 19th, 2009, David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General, issued a memorandum for federal prosecutors to use their discretion in prosecuting individuals and caregivers who violate the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) but adhere to state marijuana laws. The justification for this lax enforcement was efficient and rational use of limited federal resources. [3] Mr. Ogden made sure to clarify that this type of prosecutorial discretion was only to be exercised when the following characteristics were not present:

“unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms; violence; sales to minors; financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law; amounts of marijuana inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law; illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or ties to other criminal enterprises.” [4]

In 2013, the new Deputy Attorney General, James M. Cole, reiterated his predecessor’s memorandum. Mr. Cole also further clarified that just because a business is sizable and is for-profit should not sidestep the discretion that Mr. Ogden outlined in his 2009 memorandum. [5] That is, as long as the business is not in violation of any of the above-listed characteristics from the 2009 memo. [6]

So as long as you are using an authorized, reputable, transparent company to conduct trials and eventually market your product, you at least have a chance (even if it is small) to market your medicinal marijuana product in the U.S. Which is a hell of a lot better than your prospects would have looked 5 years ago.

Legalizing Cannabis In California

In November 2010, the State of California will be adding an initiative to the ballot to legalize marijuana. If the measure passes, California will become the first state to legalize the possession and sale of mail order marijuana for general use. Currently, California has instituted measures to allow the use of medical marijuana. As well, since 1975, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana has been a misdemeanor that is accompanied by a 0 fine.

If the ballot to legalize cannabis passes, it would mean California residents could grow limited amounts of marijuana, and local governments would have the option to permit the sale of marijuana in retail outlets. Known as the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, the November 2010 ballot includes the following measures:

  1. Adults 21 years and older will be legally permitted to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use.
  2. Adults will be permitted to grow their own marijuana plants on a plot up to 5 feet by 5 feet per home or land parcel.
  3. Counties and cities in California will be legally permitted to tax the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana.

This November 2010 ballot measure comes with its share of controversy. There are opponents and proponents lining up on each side of the issue. Proponents of the measure make the following arguments:

  1. There are financial benefits to legalizing marijuana in the state of California. Taxing marijuana would bring a considerable amount of revenue. Many experts, including California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, estimated over a billion dollars a year in revenue which would help California’s budget crisis. Also, many experts estimate that billion would be saved annually in government spending on enforcement which includes border security.
  2. Legalizing marijuana has a number of law enforcement benefits. Law enforcement officers will be able to focus on serious crimes. The costs of law enforcement would be greatly reduced. The courts would not be tied up with marijuana cases. The overcrowded prison population would decline. Crime and violence at the U.S.-Mexico border would be reduced. The lives of youth would not be ruined because they would not receive a permanent criminal record and prison time if they were caught with marijuana.
  3. Many health experts say marijuana is not anymore detrimental to a person’s health than tobacco or alcohol. As well, marijuana has been shown to benefit patients with such conditions as Cancer, AIDS, and Glaucoma.

Most opponents of the November 2010 ballot measure argue on the basis of their own personal moral beliefs. They believe the use of marijuana is immoral. Others argue that there are long-term health consequences when using marijuana and it can also lead to more people moving to more hardcore drugs.

No matter how you view the issue, one thing most people can agree on is that marijuana is here to stay in American society. It would seem that those reflecting on which way to vote on the measure in November should look at both arguments and decide which one makes the most sense. It is also helpful to look at various cannabis websites such as CannabisSearch.com.