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Feds Release All Marijuana Rescheduling Documents, Confirming Recommendation To Move To Schedule 3

A recent release of the Health and Human Services (HHS) memorandum recommending marijuana rescheduling has caused a stir in the cannabis industry and beyond.

This document, which has been eagerly awaited for months, confirms that the federal government is finally acknowledging the medical benefits of cannabis and making moves to reclassify it under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance. For years, advocates have been fighting for this shift in federal policy, the acknowledgement of cannabis’s medical value, and now it seems like their efforts are finally paying off.

While this news is certainly a step in the right direction, it also brings about many questions and concerns for cannabis businesses and consumers. Moving marijuana to Schedule III could mean stricter regulations and potentially huge and possibly insurmountable obstacles for those already operating in the industry.

But is rescheduling to Schedule III the right move for the cannabis industry? Some argue that completely removing marijuana from the CSA would be a better solution.

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To fully understand the significance of the recent HHS memorandum, it is important to first have a background understanding of marijuana regulation in the United States. Marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance under the CSA since its enactment in 1970. This classification means that the federal government considers marijuana to have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

For years, advocates and industry leaders have been pushing for marijuana to be removed from Schedule I due to its widely recognized therapeutic benefits. However, previous federal officials have avoided giving a clear rationale for why marijuana remains classified as Schedule I.

In response to mounting pressure and calls for transparency, the HHS finally released unredacted documents outlining their justification for recommending marijuana rescheduling. This was made possible through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Washington Post and Matt Zorn, a lawyer in Texas who successfully sued for their release. This move marks a significant step towards greater transparency and understanding of the government’s new stance on marijuana regulation.

In a statement released on October 06, 2022, President Biden directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct an expedited review of marijuana classification under the CSA. This came after multiple states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use, and public opinion has shifted towards support for legalization.

The HHS memorandum confirms that the Department of Health and Human Services has completed their review and recommends rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. This is a significant step towards federal recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis, as Schedule III substances are considered to have moderate potential for abuse and accepted medical use with some restrictions.

How the Move to Schedule III Will Impact Cannabis Businesses Positively

The move to Schedule III will have positive implications for the state-legal cannabis industry in various ways.

One major impact is on tax treatment under Internal Revenue Code 280E, which currently prohibits cannabis businesses from taking standard business deductions due to marijuana’s Schedule I classification. This has resulted in high tax rates for cannabis businesses and limits their ability to reinvest in their operations. With the potential move to Schedule III, cannabis businesses may be able to take advantage of standard business deductions and lower tax rates. This could significantly improve their bottom line and overall profitability.

Additionally, the shift to Schedule III may also open up access to traditional banking services for cannabis businesses. Currently, many banks are hesitant to work with state-legal marijuana companies due to federal regulations and the risk of being charged with money laundering. With a lower classification, banks may be more willing to provide financial services to cannabis businesses, making it easier for them to operate and grow.

The move to Schedule III may also bring about an expansion of research opportunities for cannabis. Currently, due to its Schedule I classification, it is challenging for researchers to conduct clinical trials and studies on marijuana. This has limited our understanding of the potential medical benefits of cannabis. With a lower classification, researchers may have more access to federal funding and resources, allowing for more comprehensive and in-depth studies on the plant.

Finally, the potential for increased profitability in the state-legal cannabis industry may also attract more investors and entrepreneurs. This could lead to further growth and development of the industry, ultimately benefiting consumers with better quality products and services.

Potential Challenges Faced by the Cannabis Industry After Rescheduling

While the move to Schedule III is a positive step towards federal recognition of the medical benefits of cannabis, it also presents significant challenges for the industry.

One major challenge is the potential need for FDA and DEA approval for all cannabis products as a Schedule III classification. As state-legal businesses already face numerous regulatory hurdles at the county and state levels, adding federal regulations could bring about even more fees and taxes, ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers. This could also slow down the development and release of new cannabis products, as businesses navigate the lengthy approval process.

Another challenge is the potential for smaller businesses to be at a disadvantage compared to larger companies, specifically Big Pharma and MSOs. These corporations have significantly more resources, funding, and influence in the industry, making it harder for smaller businesses and those from the “culture” of cannabis to compete. This could potentially lead to further consolidation in the market, limiting diversity and innovation within the industry.

It is also important to consider how this move may impact those who have been in the cannabis industry for decades and played a significant role in bringing it to where it is today. If federal regulations heavily favor larger companies, which we’ve seen in the past with other industries, it could result in Big Pharma and MSOs just running away with the legal industry.

While the rest are left to suffocate under heavy regulations and higher costs, ultimately hurting those who have been at the forefront of the cannabis movement.

Alternative Solution: Complete Removal of Marijuana from the CSA

While the move to Schedule III is a step in the right direction, many argue that it does not go far enough. Some believe that marijuana should be completely removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and regulated similarly to alcohol.

This alternative solution would involve legalizing marijuana at the federal level and allowing for regulation by the states, similar to how alcohol is currently regulated. This would remove the need for some of FDA and DEA approvals, as well as eliminate federal restrictions on banking services for cannabis businesses.

There are potential benefits to this approach, including reducing the burden on smaller businesses and allowing for a more diverse and competitive market. It could also lead to lower prices for consumers, as there would be less government intervention and taxation.

Furthermore, removing marijuana from the CSA would allow for more research and understanding of the plant’s medical benefits. It would also remove the stigma surrounding marijuana as a Scheduled drug, which is often seen as being on par with highly dangerous substances.

First Time Admitting Medical Use of Marijuana

While the move to Schedule III may come with its challenges, it is also a significant step in acknowledging the medical benefits of cannabis. For the first time, the government has officially recognized that marijuana has potential medical uses.

This could have significant implications for future legalization efforts and could lead to a shift in public perception towards marijuana. With the government now admitting to marijuana’s medical benefits, it could be harder to argue against its legalization and regulation.

Moreover, this move could also lead to increased research and understanding of cannabis as a potential treatment for various medical conditions. It cannot be understated; the more we find out about this plant, the more we can harness its full potential. It could open up opportunities for more targeted research and potentially pave the way for future FDA-approved medications derived from cannabis.

Overall, the reclassification of cannabis to Schedule III has both positive and negative implications. While it is a step towards federal recognition of its medical benefits, it also presents challenges for the industry and potentially leaves smaller businesses at a disadvantage compared to larger corporations.

The move also highlights the first time that the government has officially acknowledged marijuana’s medical use, which could have a significant impact on future legalization efforts and public perception.

However, with this reclassification comes many unanswered questions, such as the timeline for implementation and potential regulations that may need to be created. It also raises concerns about whether smaller businesses will have a fair chance to compete with Big Pharma and MSOs in the market.

At Beard Bros, we believe that the ultimate solution would be to remove marijuana completely from the Controlled Substances Act. This would promote a fair and balanced industry where companies of all sizes can thrive while also allowing for more research and understanding of cannabis as a medicinal plant.

Whatever the future holds for marijuana in terms of federal regulations, one thing is clear – its potential to positively impact people’s lives should not be overlooked or hindered by restrictive laws.


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