Over the weekend the Santa Monica Observer published an article that could mean big changes for the cannabis industry – but the article leaves us with a false sense of hope when you realize that the only source of the article is anonymous. This being the internet of all places you have to take into consideration that not everything you read is true. If you want a good example of what I’m talking about, check out these news stories that went viral, even though they were fake.
One of the things marijuana activists have been pushing for over many years has been for the Drug Enforcement Administration to take another look at where cannabis is classified in the Controlled Substances Act. As a Schedule I drug, cannabis is thought to have no medicinal value and a high potential for addiction – which we all know is ridiculous, to say the least.
Advocates, especially those in Washington D.C., have been pushing for the government to downgrade cannabis to Schedule II to allow for more research (lack thereof being the DEAs constant reason to not consider rescheduling) and a few months ago the DEA told us they would have a decision by mid-2016. This will not be the first time the DEA has promised to consider rescheduling cannabis and every time they’ve chosen not to – but will this time be different?
According to the article published by the Observer and their anonymous source, who claims to be a lawyer for the DEA, cannabis will be reclassified as a schedule II drug on August 1st of this year. While we would all like to hope that this were true – we cannot expect that it is. The article went on to say that regardless of any state sanctioned programs and laws, THC products would only be available through a doctor’s prescription in all 50 states starting this fall.
However, there are a lot of reasons that rescheduling cannabis would not affect the laws at state level at all. For one, there have been multiple memos put out that protect these laws as a part of the states’ rights – plus the government, while they tend to do their own thing, will not likely turn on the majority of voters, and in the last couple of years support for cannabis reform has skyrocketed both for medical marijuana and recreational use as well.
Even once cannabis is reclassified as a Schedule II drug there will still be years of clinical trials with different products before it will ever be available as a prescription medicine. The medicines that will be produced by the FDA are likely to be single cannabinoid medicines that come in tablet or liquid gel cap form – stat- ran programs are likely to continue to be the only way we will be able to access raw cannabis flower and other products we are more familiar with.
The biggest advantage to rescheduling cannabis will be the ability to finally conduct the research the government has been asking for all these years. They have always used a lack of evidence as their reason to shy away from relaxing the laws restricting the plant – but they also weren’t funding much research themselves. As a schedule II drug, access to federal grants and federally grown cannabis will be much easier to obtain and larger scale studies will finally be a possibility.
We can hope that this source was somewhat valid – and perhaps the DEA will surprise us and make the more sensible decision here soon. However, until we get a press release or something of the sort directly from the DEA and not a single anonymous source, we should probably consider this to be pure speculation – everything is still up in the air for now.