Crescent City , CA (PressExposure) February 22, 2012 -- The vagueness of laws governing the use of medical marijuana in California has resulted in a patchwork of local regulations and tensions with federal regulators. The confusion has prompted activists to search for a way to improve California medical cannabis regulations. Medical marijuana attorney Chris Van Hook proposes using 3 existing frameworks for regulating marijuana, depending on its intended use: pharmaceutical, herbal, or food/industrial.
Van Hook, founder of the Clean Green Certified medical marijuana inspection program, points out medical cannabis is used in a few distinct ways. Cannabis-based drugs like Sativex are prescribed by doctors in Europe and Canada as an actual medicine, and although they are not available in the US at this time, Van Hook believes there is a large potential market here. Patients also use cannabis as an herbal remedy to relieve various ailments by inhaling, vaporizing, eating or using cannabis tinctures. Finally, cannabis is taken as a dietary supplement/food/fiber crop.
"Each of these methods of use is legitimate and the uses are not exclusionary; in fact, they should be recognized and further developed," says Van Hook.
The California medical cannabis compliance lawyer says pharmaceutical cannabis will most likely always be grown indoors. There will be very specific patentable strains producing patentable compounds that will help in the very specific manner for which they have been tested and developed. Regulatory standards for cleanliness, dosage standardization labeling and prescribing will be thoroughly developed, as they should be for that particular market.
"The expansion of this market will increase the number of people who will become more comfortable with cannabis. This in turn will increase the number of patients who will become comfortable with the other regulatory categories of cannabis-herbal remedies and food/fiber crops," he explains.
Cannabis used in herbal remedies will come from both the indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis production models. The regulatory constraints of herbal remedies are much less burdensome than the pharmaceutical regulations, and their use need not be prescribed by a doctor. Examples of this type of use include edibles, falling under existing food regulations; in pill form, similar to garlic pills or fish oil pills; in tincture form, like Echinacea; or inhaled in a manner similar to aromatherapy, where herbs and plants that are burned and the smoke is inhaled to clear nasal systems or to break up colds. The smoke may be inhaled or the plant matter vaporized to reduce the smoke intake.
"Under this regulatory framework there need not be any medical proof that it is working; there only need be the patient determining that it is helping them," notes Van Hook. He says this largest category of use does not require the strict regulations applied to pharmaceuticals. The agricultural standards for the production, field handling, and manufacturing/processing of herbal remedy crops are already in place and successfully used to regulate the multi-billion dollar herbal products industry.
Cannabis as a food and fiber agricultural crop will almost exclusively come from outdoor cannabis production, which can support the larger volumes of cannabis required for the developing juicing methods, hemp fiber and dietary oils from seed production. Existing agricultural production, field handling and food processing regulations are already in place to produce and market raw fresh wheatgrass juice to consumers, and these regulations could easily be adapted for cannabis juicing, says Van Hook.
He says by properly placing the different ways that medical cannabis is used into the appropriate existing regulatory frameworks of: pharmaceutical, herbal remedy, and food and fiber crops, California will 1) widen and expand the market for all cannabis uses 2) help assure that the agricultural and small farm component of the industry is not overburdened by pharmacological standards and regulations, and 3) more accurately describe the regulatory frameworks each use of cannabis should be in.
"By expanding the regulatory categories cannabis can operate under, each category's growth would enhance and support the other two. Each developing use would have clear regulatory guidelines that are already in place. Each category of participant could then be buoyed by the success of the other two categories and friction between the different types of uses would be minimized," Van Hook concludes.