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HOUSE PANEL SET TO WEIGH IN ON WEED: The House Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee is holding a hearing next week that will look at whether to deschedule marijuana.
Cannabis faces a patchwork of regulations and rules. It still remains illegal at the federal level even though it has been legalized for recreational reasons in 14 states and for medical reasons in 33 states. At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration is set to issue rules for CBD, the chemical derived from hemp that its users say helps them with stress and sleep. The agency has sent almost two dozen warning letters to companies that have falsely marketed their products.
The House hearing ahead, titled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” is going to look at CBD as well as medical research for marijuana. Roughly two-thirds of the country supports legalizing marijuana, a steep climb from 12% support in 1970, according to Gallup.
Advocates have their eyes on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, which was approved in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would not only deschedule marijuana, but it would also expunge criminal records of those with marijuana-related conviction and add a 5% sales tax to products. The money would be reinvested into communities for programs such as job and literacy training, and would provide loans for small businesses who sell marijuana.
The National Cannabis Industry Association held a Reddit AMA Wednesday to highlight different measures they support. The ultimate goal for them is to have marijuana be de-scheduled, but still regulated, so that it’ll be treated similarly to alcohol and tobacco, but there are other changes that could help to loosen current restrictions. The STATES Act, for example, would recognize the legalization of marijuna at the state level.
The group is also hopeful that the Senate Banking Committee will mark up the SAFE Banking Act, which has 33 cosponsors and already passed the House. Mitch McConnell, however, opposes overhauls to cannabis laws, so they don’t expect to get a floor vote this session. The bill would allow cannabis companies to access banking and financial services so they don’t have to keep relying on cash to run their businesses.
Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at email@example.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.
LATEST OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT: About 8.3 million people selected or were automatically re-enrolled in plans using the HealthCare.gov during the 2020 open enrollment period. We’re still waiting to hear from states, some of whom run their own exchanges, and to see how many of that 8.3 million pay the first month of premiums.
TRUMP’S PUBLIC CHARGE RULE HITS ANOTHER WALL, AT LEAST FOR NOW: The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals refused to invalidate an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, which seeks to withhold green cards from immigrants likely to require government assistance including healthcare and food stamps. The court also set a deadline, Feb. 14, for the administration to submit legal documents to appeal a lower court’s decision to block the rule, Reuters reported Wednesday.
RBG IS CANCER-FREE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, one of four liberal justices on the Supreme Court, announced in a CNN interview that she is cancer-free after undergoing treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. The tumor, which was discovered in July 2019 after a routine blood test, was the latest in a spate of health scares and her fourth treatment for cancer since her nomination to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Ginsburg underwent surgery to remove cancerous nodules from her left lung last year, having found them after suffering broken ribs from a fall. She had undergone treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and for colorectal cancer before that in 1999. She was hospitalized last November for unrelated “fevers and chills.” Earlier that same month she missed oral arguments due to the stomach flu, but was back to work just a day later.
Every time she gets sick, Democrats hold their breath: Democrats have been uneasy about RBG’s health scares since the start of Trump’s tenure, fearing he will get the chance to nominate a third justice to the nine-member court. The death of Antonin Scalia led to Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, taking a seat on the bench, and Brett Kavanaugh took up Anthony Kennedy’s seat after he retired. When news came out that she was cancer-free, Democrats and even some Republicans breathed a sigh of relief. RBG received an outpouring of support on Twitter, with messages like, “Good, now give her a flu shot and stick her in a goddamn bubble.”
HHS DECLARES A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY IN PUERTO RICO: Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico Wednesday a day after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake left most of the island without electricity and clean water. Aftershocks still rock the island and many, according to CNN, have been afraid to go indoors for fear of being crushed if another shock topples more buildings.
Puerto Rican officials and residents have said the quake was worse than Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island two years ago. “With the hurricane, you knew when and at what time it would arrive,” Tatiana Rodriguez, 28, told CNN. “This, you don't know at what time it's going to happen.” Puerto Rican officials are still waiting on billions in funding from the government to help the island recover after the category 4 hurricane. North Carolina Democrat David Price said to the Washington Post: “I think it puts a considerable burden on the administration to show good faith… And in this case, good faith involves not just responding to this latest disaster, but cleaning up from the previous one as well.”
IN EBOLA’S SHADOW, MEASLES HAS RAVAGED THE CONGO: Doctors Without Borders reported last month that 310,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have contracted measles and at least 6,000 have died due to a lack of access to medical facilities for treatment and a vaccine shortage throughout the country. In the last week of November alone, 9,605 new measles cases were confirmed and the fatality rate in 2019 was higher than it had been in previous years. Some regions in the country have dangerously low vaccination rates, and access to more vaccines is limited. The national vaccine program in the Congo is stretched thin and many people don’t have access to treatment facilities where they live.
Doctors on the ground say that a heightened response to Ebola outbreaks around the country have taken resources away from treating and preventing other infectious diseases, measles included. “When medical staff and equipment are already limited, epidemiological surveillance and medical care for patients may deteriorate for other diseases such as measles,” said Dr. Nicolas Peyraud, a Doctors Without Borders vaccination referent.
Portland Press-Herald Democrats submit bill to lower primary and behavioral care costs
Bloomberg Health-care ministry Aliera subpoenaed by New York regulator
Stat The ghosts of JPMs past: How 20 years of deals, scandal, and science have shaped health care
The New York Times Gangs, riots, killings: ‘Undeniable crisis’ in Mississippi prisons
NPR Raising the minimum wage by $1 may prevent thousands of suicides, study shows
TUESDAY | Jan. 14
10 a.m. Rayburn 2123. House Energy and Commerce’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on “A Public Health Emergency: State Efforts to Curb the Opioid Crisis.” Details.
WEDNESDAY | Jan. 15
Noon. Cato Institute event on “Needle Exchange Programs: Benefits and Challenges,” with Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Details.
10 a.m. 2123 Rayburn. Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee hearing on “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade.” Details.