By Osagie Imasogie, Chairman of Zelira Therapeutics Ltd.
Every measure on state ballots this month to expand or legalize cannabis passed, often by a huge margin. This confirmed the continuing and growing acceptance of cannabis among Americans. Already in the vast majority of US states, cannabis is legal, in one form or another.
To pharmaceutical executives like myself, cannabis is neither avant garde nor scientifically controversial. The research and development of cannabis medicine squarely falls into the sphere of traditional pharmacology — where more than about 80% of pharmaceuticals currently on the market are derived from natural (plant, fauna, marine, etc.) sources. In fact, cannabis medicine should arguably be the gold standard in legitimizing and integrating ancient plant medicine into modern medical applications — how many other medications are rooted in the history of literally centuries of documented medical use?
Four Key Signs Pointing Toward Federal Legalization
I was recently asked about the possibility of a nationwide cannabis legalization (medical) in my native country of Nigeria, and I did not share the conventional wisdom that — despite the fact that recent data showed that Nigeria had the largest cannabis consuming population in the entire world — such legislation would easily pass. I am, however, more sanguine about that happening on a federal level here in the US, my home country for the last few decades. Here are some reasons why:
- There may yet be a Democrat-majority Senate. Final control of the Senate will not be determined until January 2021 based on who wins the dual Georgia Senate race runoffs. With Biden declared President-elect and Democrats maintaining control of the House, if Georgia elects two Democrats to the Senate, the party will have full control of the federal government for the first time in 11 years. In that case, the leverage will never be greater on the pro-cannabis side.
- Biden-Harris will be the most pro-cannabis White House to date. Both President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris have overtly signaled their support for decriminalization of cannabis and further research into its value as a federally regulated medication. This is unprecedented. Vice-President elect Harris has in particular campaigned on legalizing cannabis, at least for medicinal purposes, maybe, in part, due to her reflection on her past as a former prosecutor and …