In a statement made to The Cannabist on August 2, 2016, DEA Agent Russ Baer said that the DEA was closer than they were a month ago in making a decision with regards to rescheduling. Earlier this year, the DEA issued a statement that they wished to have decision on rescheduling made by the first half of the year. No decision was made. The marijuana industry anxiously awaits a decision by the DEA as rescheduling marijuana from a schedule I drug to a II or III drug will have an immediate and enormous impact on the marijuana industry.
Rescheduling marijuana to a schedule II drug will allow research and development like other schedule II drugs such as morphine, methamphetamines and oxycodone. It would also allow doctors to write prescriptions for marijuana instead of just issuing recommendations. Doctors could treat marijuana like any other schedule II drugs and not be in fear of federal prosecution. Depending on the rescheduling or de-scheduling (doubtful but the ideal outcome), the marijuana industry could get relief from the outrageous Federal tax imposed by Section 280E of the IRS code. (See my previous blog for greater detail). Rescheduling could also open interstate commerce of marijuana.
The downside, depending on what scheduling marijuana is placed into, is that marijuana could be subject to greater regulation by the government including FDA requirements for pharmaceuticals and other like drugs. The cost of complying with those regulations could be incredible prohibitive and detrimental to existing marijuana business. Big pharma companies could benefit as they can afford the costs of greater regulation.
Rescheduling could also force some states to scramble to change their laws to reflect whatever new schedule marijuana is placed into. In Pennsylvania, a decision will undoubtedly impact the regulations currently being drawn up by the Department of Health under Pennsylvania’s newly enacted Medical Marijuana Act.
In other words, the decision to reschedule marijuana is a game changer and everyone awaits the DEA final word.