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U.S. Import and Export of Marijuana, Hemp and Paraphernalia: Webinar Recap

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In case you missed our webinar this week, “U.S. Import and Export of Marijuana, Hemp and Paraphernalia”, the replay video is just above. And if you don’t have an hour to spare, below are highlights of what our cannabis and international trade lawyers had to say about the status and pitfalls of the international marijuana trade. 

U.S. companies are moving into international cannabis trade

Despite the current financial struggles for many U.S.-based cannabis companies, the international cannabis trade is growing. In particular, there’s a renewed demand internationally for hemp and hemp-derived products. Hemp seeds are seeing more traction on the international trade stage; and following on a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) letter last year, some companies have even begun to export seeds that will ultimately germinated into high-THC plants. Furthermore, otherwise illegal drug paraphernalia (under federal law) has been allowed to enter U.S. borders in certain cases

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives, removing hemp from the definition of “marijuana” pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, hemp and hemp-derived products, such as CBD, are no longer illegal controlled substances (so long as they contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC) and, therefore, now legal to import and export (see here and here for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidance on the topic). Don’t forget though that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes major issue with CBD in the food, beverage and supplements space, especially  regarding health and bodily claims under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

How to import/export cannabis products to and from the U.S.

Know the international trade and cannabis laws and regulations at home and abroad, and don’t bother “port shopping”

In order to import/export cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia, you must know the applicable laws and regulations for the countries of origin and destination, including the specific requirements of customs and border agencies. Of course, in all countries, only specific types of cannabis products are going to be lawful: generally, hemp and hemp derivatives. Some countries dictate that hemp products cannot contain more than .1% THC (rather than the .3% we see here in the states). Others ban synthetic cannabinoids.

Be mindful that, for both import and export analysis, certain U.S. states restrict products that the federal government hasn’t banned, which could make even getting to a port challenging. Finally, As far as the U.S. goes, the concept of port-shopping for a friendlier point of entry (even in states that legalized medical or adult-use marijuana) won’t matter since customs/trade enforcement is centralized and state marijuana laws won’t be a priority anyway.

Pick a marijuana-friendly country for marijuana imports or exports

Medical marijuana import and export is exceedingly difficult in the U.S. and can only be done pursuant to DEA licenses. Companies able to pull import/export permits for medical marijuana in the U.S. are true unicorns, and much choose countries that are progressive when it comes to medical marijuana imports/exports. That list has considerably expanded over the years, and now includes at least Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay, Colombia, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Lesotho or Australia.

The U.S. has enhanced standards of operation for importers of record

Additionally in the U.S., among the myriad federal trade laws and regulations you must know, in addition to the hemp laws, U.S. trade laws place a legal burden on the importer of record to exercise “reasonable care” to make sure that imported products are accurately declared to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP is the federal agency responsible for ensuring that imported goods are allowed to enter only if they are in compliance with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. CBP coordinates with a wide range of partner government agencies (e.g., FDA, EPA, DOT, ATF, CPSC, etc.) that have expertise in the laws and regulations applicable to particular products. CBP coordinates with the DEA to implement and enforce the relevant provisions of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act which makes it a crime to bring controlled substances into the country without a proper license.

An indicator of an importer exercising reasonable care is when they seek assistance from a qualified expert who can assist this evaluation. We tell our clients that the gold standard for exercising reasonable care is when importers submit to CBP a formal ruling request for the product in question. Typically CBP ruling requests usually involve determining the appropriate tariff classification, valuation, or country of origin. CBP has issued plenty of rulings on whether products such as tobacco leaf wraps, water pipes, or grinders are drug paraphernalia. CBP has also issued tariff classification rulings on CBD oil and distillates and hemp biomass.

Hire knowledgeable people to help you get through the cannabis import and export process

A cannabis lawyer should not be dabbling in international trade law and vice versa. If you already have your knowledgeable cannabis lawyer, great. But you’re going to need an international trade expert, too.

Importing or exporting cannabis is a complex process to navigate. First, you must determine the permissibility of the import or export under existing controls. Such an endeavor generally requires working with an attorney experienced in international trade laws. When the product doesn’t appear on the Commerce Control List (CCL) — a set of standards determining whether an item can be shipped and where — a knowledgeable professional can help you move forward.

Articles on the CCL will have an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)  based on their characteristics, which determines whether exporting them requires a license. In the absence of an ECCN, items may be designated as EAR99, which means exporting them does not call for specific licensure.

Items assigned an ECCN generally fall into categories such as electronics or technology, but it is still worthwhile to have an experienced legal expert review your product to ensure an ECCN does not apply. At that point, you can have your professional obtain a Commodity Classification Automated Tracking System (CCATS) number from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to give the product a formal classification.

Although not every circumstance requires it, a CCATS may provide assurances to finance partners, customs brokers and receiving entities by demonstrating that you went through the proper channels to export your product. That means it may be easier to find a suitable consignee in your destination and get the necessary permits.

Diligence your international cannabis trade partners

After obtaining a CCATS, exporters should conduct due diligence on any partner in the transaction and the ultimate product destination. Due to embargoes, export to Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran are impermissible except by explicit licensing from appropriate U.S. agencies. All parties to the transaction — including entities and their majority stakeholders — should also clear the restricted-parties lists with the BIS and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The future of cannabis and marijuana paraphernalia imports/exports

Obviously, marijuana products (i.e., containing more than .3% delta-9 THC) are still federally illegal in the U.S. There is no lawful market for their import/export (with the exceptions blessed by the DEA mentioned above). However, hemp (including “marijuana” seeds) and hemp derived products are picking up speed in the international marijuana trade.

Overall, the process is complex and fraught with legal pitfalls. The international cannabis trade is nonetheless an opportunity for businesses to diversify and expand their reach across the globe. If you’re contemplating the import or export of cannabis or paraphernalia, you’re definitely onto something. Know the game and proceed with caution given the compliance obligations and everchanging dynamics of the international cannabis trade.



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Can a CBD Vape Pen Help You Sleep Better?

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CBD vape pen does not cause sedation. Instead, it helps reduce anxiety, destress, reduce pain, improve mood, and thus help sleep. It may be better than using sedatives as it does not alter sleep quality or architecture.

Sleep disorders are very common and may increase the risk of a range of health conditions like obesity, diabetes, various mood disorders, including depression, and more. Poor sleep may also lower immunity and slow down regenerative processes.

There is a reason to consider CBD vape pens: they help you sleep better. Sedatives may help a person sleep quickly, but people often wake up with heavy-headedness or even headaches the next day. This is because sedatives alter brain function and sleep architecture. However, CBD vapes do not have those side effects; thus, it is a more natural way to enhance sleep.

How Does CBD Affect Sleep?

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including sleep. The ECS consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) throughout the body. CBD may influence these receptors to promote balance and homeostasis, potentially improving sleep quality (1).

Research suggests that CBD may help alleviate factors that negatively impact sleep, such as anxiety, pain, and stress. By addressing these underlying issues, CBD can indirectly contribute to better sleep.

Potential Benefits of Using a CBD Vape Pen for Sleep

CBD vape pen is not as potent as sedatives, but it is safer. Additionally, CBD vape pens may be better than CBD oils or gummies in certain ways. Thus, many people find CBD vape ben as one of the better ways to enhance sleep quality. Some reasons to consider CBD vape pens are:

Faster Absorption and Quick Relief

One of the primary advantages of using a CBD vape pen is the speed at which CBD enters the bloodstream (2). Unlike oral consumption, which can take up to an hour or more to take effect, vaping allows CBD to be absorbed almost immediately. This quick action can be beneficial for individuals who have difficulty falling asleep due to anxiety or racing thoughts.

Anxiety and Stress Reduction

Anxiety and stress are common causes of sleep disturbances. CBD has been shown to have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties. It can help calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep. Using a CBD vape pen allows users to experience these calming effects quickly, making it easier to relax and fall asleep (3).

Pain Relief

Chronic pain can significantly disrupt sleep patterns. CBD is known for its analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, which can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Vaping CBD can provide rapid relief from pain, allowing individuals to settle into a more comfortable and restful state for sleep.

Improved Sleep Quality

Beyond helping individuals fall asleep, CBD may also improve overall sleep quality. Some studies suggest that CBD can influence sleep architecture, potentially increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep stages. Deep sleep is essential for restorative rest and overall health.

Greater Benefit with Each Day

When using CBD for better sleep, it is essential to understand that some benefits are experienced from the very first hours of CBD vaping, but some benefits are experienced on consistent use.

When one uses a CBD vape pen, it almost immediately reduces stress and calms nerves. However, on consistent use, CBD accumulates a bit in a system. This means peak benefit from CBD vape pen use is experienced between days three and five.

Further, on continued CBD use through vaping or other means, some changes occur in the body. This includes altered stress response and specific changes in the brain structure. Such changes occur gradually over weeks. Hence, it is vital to keep using CBD to experience all its health effects.

Considerations for Using a CBD Vape Pen for Sleep

Although most CBD vape pens would help, it is vital to choose high-quality vape pens. Quite often, people choose products that are of poor quality, and then they wrongly conclude that CBD does not work for them. So, here are a few things to consider when using CBD vape pens for sleep:

Choosing the Right Product

When selecting a CBD vape pen, choosing a high-quality product from a reputable source is important. Look for vape pens that use pure CBD oil without harmful additives or contaminants. Third-party lab testing can provide assurance of the product’s quality and safety.

Dosage and Usage

Finding the right dosage of CBD can vary from person to person. It’s generally recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase until the desired effects are achieved. For sleep, a lower dose might be sufficient, as higher doses of CBD can sometimes have a stimulating effect.

Timing of Use

To optimize the benefits of a CBD vape pen for sleep, timing is crucial. It’s typically best to use the vape pen 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime. This allows enough time for the calming effects of CBD to take hold, helping you relax and prepare for sleep.

Potential Side Effects

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects. Common side effects may include dry mouth, dizziness, and mild drowsiness. These effects are typically mild and temporary.

Legal Considerations

In the UK, CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC to be legal. Ensure that the CBD vape pen and oil you purchase comply with local regulations to avoid any legal issues.

The Bottom Line

A CBD vape pen is an effective and fast way to improve sleep quality. However, do not forget to take other measures. So, improve your sleep routine, manage underlying causes, and make lifestyle changes. When CBD is combined with other lifestyle interventions, it can be of great help. Choosing high-quality products, starting with a low dose, and considering integrating other healthy sleep practices for the best results is crucial.

References

  1. Kesner AJ, Lovinger DM. Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Sleep. Front Mol Neurosci. 2020 Jul 22;13:125.

  2. Millar SA, Stone NL, Yates AS, O’Sullivan SE. A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans. Front Pharmacol. 2018 Nov 26;9:1365.

  3. Wright M, Di Ciano P, Brands B. Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020 Sep 2;5(3):191–6.

 

MORE ON CBD FOR SLEEP, READ ON…

CANNABIS OR JUST CBD FOR SLEEP

CANNABIS OR JUST CBD FOR SLEEP, WHICH WORKS BEST?



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The Cannabis Industry Now Supports Over 440,000 Full-Time Jobs

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As the 2024 elections draw near, the economic impact of cannabis legalization is set to become a prominent topic in political discourse. With billions in total sales and millions in tax revenue, the economic benefits of legal cannabis are clear. However, beyond the monetary gains, there is a crucial aspect that must not be overlooked: job creation.

The 2024 Cannabis Jobs Report by Vangst reveals that over 440,000 jobs have been generated in states with legal cannabis, marking a 5.4% increase in the past year alone. This growth not only signifies economic stability, but also highlights the industry’s resilience in recovering from past job losses. As new markets like Missouri contribute to this job surge, the report underscores the varying dynamics of job creation across different states: newer markets are expanding while older ones face challenges. Despite these disparities, the forecast remains optimistic, with continued growth in sales and job opportunities anticipated in the coming years.

The economic benefits of legal cannabis

When discussing the economic benefits of fully legalizing cannabis, the subjects of total retail sales and related tax revenue are always immediately discussed, and rightfully so. Forbes estimates that the regulated U.S. cannabis industry will be worth $46 billion in 2028, and will surpass alcohol sales in some counties. Even in more remote and less populous states, cannabis has brought in millions in retail sales and tax revenue. In Maine for instance, cannabis sales reached $217 million in 2023. Missouri, despite a population of roughly six million, was the sixth largest market of all the states with legal cannabis in 2023. In all, Missouri topped $1 billion during its first year of recreational sales.

Job creation in the cannabis industry

As we approach the 2024 elections, cannabis will undoubtedly be an issue on the forefront of discussions. The rapidly increasing, multi-billion dollar figure of total cannabis sales and many millions more in tax revenue will be mentioned prominently. However, when discussing the numerous economic benefits of recreationally legalizing cannabis, politicians who run so heavily on platforms of American job creation, such as the reality TV star turned President, must also acknowledge the thousands of jobs that are created annually from states with legal cannabis.

Recovery and growth

One partial reason identified by the Vangst Report for the dramatic increase in 2023 cannabis jobs, is that cannabis industry overall experienced a loss of about 10,500 jobs from 2022 to 2023. Not only were industry businesses actively creating new roles for prospective employees by the thousands in 2023, they were recuperating from a deficit of job loss. Luckily for this flourishing industry, the legalization and opening of the recreational cannabis market in Missouri easily filled those 10,500 previously lost jobs for their billion-dollar industry.

State-by-state analysis

One noteworthy data set in the Vangst Report was precisely which states’ markets were creating more jobs, and the ages of various state markets in relation to job creation performance. Of the top nine states for cannabis job growth, three saw increases of over 100 percent; and none of those states had legal cannabis before 2018. One of those states, Utah, experienced a growth of about 16 percent, but is still a strictly regulated medical-only market. Even more surprisingly, Utah is the only state that could even be considered “West Coast” among the top nine.

Interestingly and worryingly, the eight states to experience the most staggering job loss all legalized cannabis at least a decade ago. On top of the mountain of issues that the California industry is already facing, the Golden State experienced the highest number of job losses in the past year. Neighbor state Nevada, despite attracting over 40 million tourists a year, experienced a seven percent job numbers drop. Colorado and Washington, the very first two states to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012, experienced the highest percentage of job loss by far, at 16 and 15 percent respectively.

“The national 5.4% growth in jobs wasn’t spread evenly. Now more than ever, America’s cannabis industry is a state by-state, region-by-region job market.” the Vangst Job Report summarized. “Young markets in recently legalized states continue to expand and create employment opportunities, while labor demand in mature markets contracts along with revenue and profit margins.”

Future projections

Even with the notable stagnation or job loss in the thousands for certain states, the report indicates hints of future job growth. Vangst estimates that anywhere from 7,500 to 45,000 jobs could be created in Ohio, for example, which recently legalized adult use cannabis. Out east, With Maryland awarding 75 more retail cannabis licenses, the number of jobs created in that state would almost certainly increase. Overall, the Vangst Report hypothesizes another wildly successful year for cannabis sales.

“In 2023 our legal revenue forecast of $29.2 billion came in at $28.8 billion (98.3% accuracy). This year we’re looking for 9.1% growth, with sales increasing to $31.4 billion. By 2030, we predict this will grow to $67.2 billion as more states legalize and more consumers participate. That growth will create more jobs, more wages, more taxes, and more ancillary support. Despite the challenges, this seems like a good problem to have as an industry.”

Conclusion

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and expand, its economic contributions are becoming increasingly significant– particularly in terms of job creation and tax revenue. Job growth underscores the industry’s resilience and potential to create economic opportunities, even as older markets face challenges.

As the 2024 elections approach, it is imperative for policymakers to recognize and address the multifaceted economic benefits of cannabis legalization, ensuring that discussions extend beyond sales and taxes to include the vital aspect of job creation. With projections indicating continued growth in sales and employment, the cannabis industry stands as a dynamic and promising sector, one poised to make significant contributions to the American economy in the years to come.



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Drugs are Bad, Mmmkay? – The Subjective Morality around Cannabis and Other Drugs

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The Subjective Morality of Drugs

The question of whether drugs are inherently good or bad has been a topic of debate for centuries.

Society often labels certain substances as “bad drugs” while accepting others as “good.” But how do we measure the morality of a drug? Is it based on its legal status, cultural acceptance, or perceived health risks?

Assessing the “goodness” or “badness” of a drug is a complex task, as it involves considering various factors such as individual health, social impact, and potential for abuse. However, even these factors are subject to cultural and personal biases. What one society deems acceptable, another may view as a moral failing.

This raises the question: Can we truly use morality as a filter to determine whether a drug is good or bad? Moreover, who is the arbiter of this morality? Is it the government, religious institutions, or public opinion?

Interestingly, most people are active drug users, often without realizing it. The world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, caffeine, is found in coffee, tea, and various other beverages and foods. Yet, we rarely question the morality of consuming this socially accepted substance.

In this article, we will explore the subjective morality surrounding drugs, challenging the notion that they can be neatly categorized as either good or bad. By examining the hypocrisy in our attitudes towards different substances, we aim to shed light on the complex relationship between humans and the psychoactive compounds we consume.

 

A drug, in its broadest sense, is any chemical substance that, when consumed, has a physiological effect on the body. This definition encompasses a wide range of substances, from prescription medications to recreational drugs, and even includes everyday substances like caffeine and sugar.

If we accept this expansive definition, it becomes clear that the majority of the world’s population are, in fact, regular drug users.

Substances like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar are consumed daily by billions of people worldwide, often without a second thought.

Let’s take coffee as an example. According to the National Coffee Association, approximately 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, with an average consumption of three cups per day. Globally, over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day, making it one of the most popular beverages in the world. Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, improving alertness and reducing fatigue.

Similarly, sugar is added to countless food products and is consumed in vast quantities. The World Health Organization reports that the average person consumes around 24 kilograms of sugar per year. Sugar has been shown to have addictive properties and can lead to various health problems when consumed in excess, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Despite their widespread use and potential for harm, substances like coffee and sugar are rarely subjected to the same moral scrutiny as illegal drugs like cannabis, cocaine, or heroin. This discrepancy raises questions about the consistency and validity of our moral judgments regarding drug use.

One reason for this inconsistency may be the legal status and cultural acceptance of certain substances. Alcohol, for example, is legal in most countries and is often associated with social gatherings and celebrations. In contrast, drugs like cannabis and cocaine are illegal in many jurisdictions and are often stigmatized as dangerous and morally corrupt.

However, the legal status and cultural acceptance of a substance do not necessarily reflect its potential for harm or addiction. Alcohol, for instance, is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide each year and can lead to severe health problems and addiction.

In light of these considerations, it becomes clear that our moral judgments about drugs are often inconsistent and influenced by factors beyond the inherent properties of the substances themselves.

By recognizing the widespread use of drugs in our society and the arbitrary nature of our moral distinctions, we can begin to have a more honest and nuanced conversation about drug use and its consequences.

We can move away from the “morality of drugs” and enter into the realm of the “science of drugs.”

 

Throughout history, various movements have used morality as a tool to push for the prohibition of certain drugs. These campaigns often relied on fear-mongering, racism, and sexual stigmatization to advance their agendas.

One notable example is the temperance movement of the early 20th century, which sought to ban alcohol in the United States. Proponents of the movement argued that alcohol consumption was a moral failing that led to poverty, domestic violence, and societal decay. Interestingly, they also used sexual purity as a motivator, suggesting that alcohol use led to promiscuity and the erosion of traditional family values.

This moralistic rhetoric ultimately contributed to the passage of the 18th Amendment, which ushered in the era of Prohibition.

Similarly, the prohibition of marijuana in the United States has its roots in racism and moral panic. In the early 1900s, cannabis was associated with Mexican immigrants, who were blamed for various social problems. The media fueled this narrative with sensationalized stories, such as the infamous “Reefer Madness” film, which depicted marijuana use as a gateway to violence, sexual deviancy, and insanity.

By portraying cannabis as a threat to moral society, proponents of prohibition were able to pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, effectively criminalizing the drug.

The story of opium prohibition also has a dark history of racism and moral judgment. In the late 1800s, Chinese immigrants were instrumental in building America’s railroads. Many of these workers used opium, which was legal at the time, to cope with the harsh working conditions and loneliness.

However, as anti-Chinese sentiment grew, opium use became a target for moral crusaders. They portrayed Chinese immigrants as morally depraved and a threat to white society, using this rhetoric to push for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and, eventually, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, which restricted opium use.

Looking back at the history of prohibition, it becomes clear that these policies were often rooted in prejudice, fear, and a misguided sense of morality.

The consequences of these actions have been devastating, leading to the criminalization of large segments of the population, the rise of organized crime, and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes.

Today, we continue to grapple with the stigma and moral judgments that our predecessors attached to drug use. The War on Drugs, launched in the 1970s, has disproportionately targeted communities of color and has led to mass incarceration, while doing little to address the root causes of addiction and drug abuse.

In light of this history, it is important to recognize that prohibition itself, not the drugs it aims to suppress, is often the true source of immorality.

By perpetuating harmful stereotypes, fueling racial discrimination, and criminalizing individuals who need help, prohibition has caused immense harm to society.

As we move forward, it is crucial that we reexamine our moral assumptions about drug use and work towards policies that prioritize public health, compassion, and evidence-based approaches to addiction and substance abuse. Only by confronting the misguided morality of prohibition can we hope to build a more just and equitable society.

 

As we’ve explored throughout this article, the question of whether drugs are inherently good or bad is a complex one, deeply entangled with historical, cultural, and moral perceptions.

We are left with the realization that morality may have little bearing on the objective effects of drugs, as individual beliefs and societal norms often shape what is considered acceptable or deviant.

If we accept that drugs are amoral—that is, void of intrinsic moral classifications—then our approach to drug policy should be guided by scientific evidence and empirical data, rather than subjective moral judgments.

Under this lens, we might find that alcohol, a substance responsible for countless deaths and social ills, would be classified as a Schedule I drug, while substances like sugar and caffeine, which also have addictive properties and potential health risks, would face greater regulation.

Yet, despite the evidence, we find ourselves grappling with the morals of a bygone era, which continue to dictate our relationship with the substances we consume.

The War on Drugs, born out of fear, racism, and moral panic, has led to devastating consequences, from mass incarceration to the stigmatization of addiction, while failing to address the complex social and economic factors that contribute to substance abuse.

It is time for us to break free from the shackles of outdated moral perceptions and embrace a new approach to drug policy—one that prioritizes harm reduction, public health, and individual liberty.

By dismantling the Controlled Substance Act and reevaluating our entire framework for regulating drugs, we can begin to address the root causes of addiction and provide support for those who need it most.

As we move forward, let us not allow the moral judgments of the past to dictate the policies of the future. Instead, let us chart a new course, guided by compassion, reason, and a commitment to evidence-based solutions.

Only then can we hope to build a society that truly promotes the well-being of all its members, regardless of their relationship with drugs.



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