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Smoke Signals

GOP squeezed over hardline pot posture

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Pro-pot Republican Dana Rohrabacher swears that Donald Trump's going to change the nation's federal cannabis posture after the midterms.

"I have been talking to people inside the White House who know and inside the president's entourage," says the California congressman in a statement highlighted in a recent press release sent out by CMW Media in San Diego. "I have been reassured that the president intends on keeping his campaign promise."

The CMW Media release notes that this "solid commitment" from Trump will be good for emergent pot businesses such as Hemp Inc. and GrowLife.

Trump's campaign promise was that he would honor states' rights when it came to cannabis law, and as NORML's Paul Armentano wrote in The Hill last week, the reality-show president is supporting the bipartisan STATES Act that's currently going nowhere under GOP congressional leadership that's decidedly anti-pot.

The problem for GOP marijuana dead-enders is that they're getting squeezed at home at the same time they're getting squeezed from elected office, thanks to their embrace of Trump and his rolling parade of amoral shenanigans. Pot legalization measures have made their way onto the ballot in conservative states like Utah and North Dakota this year, even as hardliners in Congress refuse to budge on any serious attempt to stop classifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration in June moved to reschedule the CBD-based drug Epidiolex from Schedule 1 to Schedule V, and reiterated that CBD remains a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act "because it is a chemical component of the cannabis plant." The anti-epilepsy drug is produced by the U.K.-based GW Pharmaceuticals.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in announcing the approval, wrote that "it's also important to note that this is not an approval of marijuana or all of its components." The FDA has not jumped on any larger de-scheduling bandwagon. "Marijuana is a Schedule 1 compound with known risks," he wrote.

The FDA's move this year occurred, as Armentano noted, even as hardliners moved to gut a popular Senate proposal that set out to "facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans."

Now pro-pot Republicans like Rohrabacher are smoke-signaling that it will take a Democratic takeover of the House for any serious motion on cannabis reform. That's both ironic and desperate, given that fivethirtyeight.com has Rohrabacher's Democratic opponent, Harley Rouda, at a 66.5 percent chance of beating the incumbent, who's been in the House since 1988.

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