More than 40 top cannabis businesses, trade groups and advocacy organizations from across the country have banded together to form the U.S. Cannabis Council, a nonprofit aimed at advancing federal cannabis reform.
Billed as the largest coalition of its kind — and a veritable supergroup of the who’s who in legal cannabis — the USCC is designed to harness the resources, energy and expertise of its founding members to end federal cannabis prohibition through key strategic alliances.
“USCC is a unified voice advocating for the descheduling and legalization of cannabis,” said Steven Hawkins, the group’s interim CEO, who also serves as executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a founding member of the USCC. “Legalization at both the state and federal level must include provisions ensuring social equity and redress for harms caused to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
The 501(c)4 nonprofit will focus on securing federal reforms that advance social equity and promote fair, safe and well-regulated markets nationwide.
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said advancement in the cannabis sphere has always come through teamwork.
“We have a unique opportunity in the 117th Congress to advance cannabis reform, but we must remain united to create the change we know is possible,” he said in a press release. “I look forward to welcoming the United States Cannabis Council to Washington, D.C. and working together toward meaningful policy change in the months and years ahead.”
For every five board appointments, the USCC will reserve one additional board seat for members representing specific areas of focus, including diversity, equity and inclusion and environmental concerns.
Founding members of the USCC include: Acreage Holdings, Akerna, Canopy Growth Corporation, Columbia Care, Cresco Labs, Curaleaf, Eaze, Jushi, Lightshade, LivWell Enlightened Health, Medicine Man, MedMen, Native Roots, PAX Labs, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Vicente Sederberg LLP and Wana Brands.
“After so many years working towards meaningful reform, it’s inspiring to see the diverse group of partners who have formed this collective voice, and together, we are hopeful that true, meaningful federal cannabis reform is within reach,” said Christian Sederberg, USCC’s acting board chairman and a partner at national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg.
– Brian Beckley
The Battle Brothers Foundation has received approval from the national Independent Review Board (IRB) to launch an observational study on the use of medical cannabis to help with post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
The study, which will be conducted in concert with NiaMEdic, a medical data research company, aims to determine if cannabis is beneficial in reducing symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant PTSD.
“This news could not come at a better time,” said Bryan Buckley, founder and president of the board for Battle Brothers Foundation.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the rate of PTSD among returning service members varies widely across wars and eras. The VA estimates that between 11 and 20 of every 100 soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. A 2015 study found that up to 500,000 troops who served over the previous 13 years experienced PTSD. In addition, about 12% of Operation Desert Storm Veterans experience PTSD in a given year and it is estimated that 30% of Vietnam veterans experienced PTSD at some point in their lives.
“Through anecdotal experiences, we know that cannabis can alleviate symptoms and provide relief,” Buckley said. “We appreciate that the IRB recognizes the validity of and the need for this study.”
The Battle Brothers Foundation is the nonprofit arm of Helmand Valley Growers Company, a cannabis company founded by Buckley and other disabled U.S. Special Operations veterans that donates 100% of its profits to fund research on the medical use of cannabis for veterans. The Battle Brothers study will enroll 60 California veterans with moderate or severe PTSD over the next year and track the impact cannabis has on their PTSD symptoms for a period of 90 days.
The study comes on the heels of two others released in 2020 that showed CBD as an effective treatment for PTSD. The first study, published in June in the Journal of Affective Disorders, shows cannabis reduced the severity of intrusions, returning thoughts of a traumatic event, by about 62%; flashbacks by 51%, irritability by 67% and anxiety by 57%. The symptom reductions were not permanent, however. A second study, published in December in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, showed participants who used cannabis were 2.6 times more likely to no longer meet DSM-5 criteria for PTSD at the end of the study observation period compared to participants who did not use cannabis.
The Veterans Action Council also recently called on the Veterans Health Administration to fully recognize cannabis as a viable treatment option for U.S. veterans as part of the release of its “Green Paper.”
— Brian Beckley