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Answering the Call: FOCUS Submits Comprehensive Response to the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act; Shapes Conversation Around Health and Safety

by Team Marijuana News


Phoenix, AZ, September 14th– Foundation of Cannabis United Standards (FOCUS), in consultation of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), submitted a comprehensive response to the request for commentary on the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). The document provides a first-of-its-kind effort to bridge the gap between cannabis and other mainstream industries through their shared interest in a federal framework that ensures a smooth transition into a federally legal U.S. cannabis marketplace. The response covers everything from oversight bodies and nomenclature to proposed structures and approaches to ensure the broadest possible implementation of legal cannabis products without sacrificing what is at the core of both FOCUS’ and AFDO’s missions: protecting public health and safety.

Since its announcement, the CAOA has been a hot button issue among those on all sides of the cannabis industry, as well as those interested in the ramifications of federal legalization on existing industries (e.g., Consumer Packaged Goods, Pharmaceutical, Alcohol, and Tobacco). Some are in support of this bill becoming law. Others are adamantly opposed to some, or all, of this legislation. FOCUS hopes this draft bill can serve as exactly what it is intended to be: a starting point for truly effective conversations around what U.S. federal cannabis legalization needs to look like for all parties. It is our hope that providing this commentary, offering up our existing and future work on the topic, and making ourselves available for future discussions, we can help to streamline and minimize the strain of taking on such a momentous and timely endeavor. By participating in this rulemaking process, FOCUS and AFDO can serve as stewards for the quality and safety standards and operational guidance required for the cannabis industry become federally legal.

To further advance these important efforts, FOCUS, with the assistance of AFDO and their industry partners, will launch of series of townhall meetings, steering committees, webinars, and other events designed to bring all interested parties under one umbrella.

Topics included in the response letter to U.S. Senators Schumer, Booker, Wyden, and Murray, as well as the topics for upcoming events are as follows:

  • Suggested architecture for the four industry pathways as described in FOCUS’ proposed framework, including:
    • Adult-Use/therapeutic (psychotropic)
    • Food/beverage (CPG) (non-psychotropic)
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Industrial
  • Decriminalization prior to legalization
  • Standardized definitions of cannabis and hemp terminology
  • Recognition of state laws
  • Anti-diversion provisions
  • Retail sales age and quantity restrictions
  • Societal impact
  • Conducting of research and development
  • Proposed cannabis taxes (including excise taxes)
  • Operational rules for cannabis manufacturing

Background on both FOCUS and AFDO are included within the formal response, as well as information regarding the timeline of events leading up to this document. The organizations offer comprehensive solutions to address the problems highlighted by many of the CAOA from other parties. Our full response letter can be found on the FOCUS website.

Statement from FOCUS Founder, Lezli Engelking:

“While commentary on public policy is typically outside of the FOCUS scope, the immense impact federal cannabis legalization will have on the health and safety of all Americans, prompted us to speak up. This quote from FDR sums the situation up nicely:

‘The success or failure of any government in the final analysis must be measured by the well-being of its citizens. Nothing can be more important to a state than its public health; the state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people.’

As The Cannabis Health and Safety Organization, it is our hope that Congress understands the critical importance of ensuring all legalization efforts first and foremost prioritize health and safety.”

Statement from AFDO Executive Director, Steven Mandernach:

“We believe a national policy on cannabis will enhance consumer safety, promote uniformity across the country, and ultimately result in a safer product. Further, a national policy would ensure age-appropriate availability of cannabis and its derivatives. Given the widespread legalization across the United States, we believe the question of legalization has already largely been determined, now we need to move into a climate of national regulation.”


Established in 2014 as The Cannabis Health and Safety Organization, FOCUS is a 501c3 non-profit that addresses the many shortcomings in quality, safety, and consistency that have become evident with the explosive growth of the global cannabis industry. FOCUS is not a cannabis company, an industry trade association, nor is FOCUS an advocacy organization. FOCUS is an unbiased, third-party with no financial stake in – or funding from – the cannabis industry. FOCUS exists to help assure the rapidly growing global cannabis industry has the necessary protections in place for the health, safety, success, and welfare of everyone.  Our autonomy fosters a principled, objective organization that protects end users, and acts as the much-needed neutral, nonpartisan bridge between industry and regulatory. More on FOCUS can be found at focusstandards.org or by finding us on social media at @focusstandards on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Since 1986, AFDO unites high-level regulatory officials, industry representatives, trade associations, academia and consumer organizations. AFDO members strive to foster uniformity in the adoption and enforcement of science-based food, drug, medical device and cosmetic products safety laws and regulation for improved public health.

Point of Contact:

Brett Puffenbarger

Director of Sales and Marketing

Email: Brett@focusstandards.org

Phone: (540) 448-0608

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