If cannabis becomes an FDA regulated substance, what will this mean to the thriving medical and recreational cannabis industry?
Answer - Dr Mark Pinto
If the DEA does move forward in the right direction, chances are it will proceed cautiously and move cannabis to Schedule II. Schedule II drugs are considered “dangerous” and having a “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Basically, cannabis would join an elite group of substances that includes OxyContin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, which, while potentially “dangerous,” have “medical value.”
Rescheduling, however, would not remove all barriers to research that are afforded to other clinical drug studies that would be required for cannabis products to become approved by the FDA. The DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have a monopoly on cannabis production. Critics argue that the monopoly limits supply; predictably, the DEA disagrees.
Contrary to popular belief, rescheduling doesn’t automatically ease federal criminal penalties, nor would it make the manufacture, possession, or distribution of marijuana legal. Patients and caregivers could still be prosecuted and their assets seized. However, according to attorney and drug policy reformer Luke Zimmerman, Esq., “If the DEA reschedules cannabis, it would send a powerful message to law enforcement and the courts in many of the more conservative municipalities, and that could result in more clemency and broader policy reform.”
Rescheduling cannabis would help to solve the tax and banking issues cannabis businesses face. Currently, IRS rule 280(e) prohibits business from deducting most expenses. Likewise, the banking industry has been reticent to work with cannabis businesses, compelling much of the industry to operate only in cash. Note that IRS rule 280(e) includes both Schedule I and II drugs, so the DEA would need to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III or lower, or Congress would have to enact legislation to allow tax deductability for businesses selling Schedule II drugs.
(What Would Actually Happen if the DEA Rescheduled Cannabis? By Jeremy Kossen — 5/13/2016)