What happens if the DEA reschedules marijuana to Schedule II?

Facebook has been buzzing these past few weeks about the prospect of the DEA rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II on the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) of 1970. That’s the statute that established and controls federal US drug policy. The DEA and the FDA determine which drugs get scheduled on which list, although in this instance, the DEA is claiming that they only enforce the law, not make it. Bunch of tossers. Oh yeah, and we have “tricky Dicky Nixon” to thank for its establishment and the fact that marijuana was put on the Schedule I list in 1970, where it remains today. If you want to read all about it, here’s the link to the Controlled Substance Act.

This video is just painful, yet deliciously amusing at the same time

The definition of a drug on the Schedule I list means the following:

1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances, and such substances are subject to production quotas which the DEA imposes.

Schedule II drugs include all those drugs that are killing people these days such as Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Percocet, Dilaudid, Methamphetamine, Opium, Codeine, Morphine…

Theoretically, no research on cannabis has been allowed in the US until just recently, except that the US government has been researching it and holds US Patent 6630507 on Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Not only that, but since 1976, the federal government has allowed several patients access to the federal cannabis supply through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) Program that was under the authority of the FDA. But, I will leave that program to another post. Here’s the link if you want to do homework on your own.

Anywho, I digress, largely because there is so much bullshit going on with our government when it comes to cannabis. This post is about whether or not the DEA will reschedule marijuana on August 1, 2016 and its ramifications, thereof. The rumor going around was that according to an anonymous “DEA lawyer with knowledge of the matter,” the DEA will reschedule cannabis as a prescription-only Schedule II drug on Aug. 1. However, the latest news is that according to DEA Staff Coordinator Russ Baer, “no definite decision has been made.”

According to Baer, “the decision to reschedule is a difficult one, because the biochemistry of cannabis is so complex and there are many uses and forms of medical cannabis.”

“We are talking about synthetic THC, CBD, oils, extract, edibles,” he said.

The challenge for researchers and government agencies, Baer added, is to “identify the parts of the plant that might have benefit, and separating out (the beneficial) parts from the ones that aren’t beneficial or harmful.”

From what I understand, the most beneficial type of cannabis treatment for serious conditions such as cancers, severe digestive disorders and ALS, to name but a few, require Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) which uses the entire plant. Just what exactly does Mr. Baer refer to when he talks about “the parts that aren’t beneficial or harmful?” So, the FDA is just going to eliminate THC?…because that is the only compound that I can imagine that is thought to be harmful…

Another scenario, according to cannabis policy attorney Tom Downey, “[The DEA] could partially legalize medical marijuana, and the federal government could usher in a new era with a comprehensive and multi-structural approach to pot policy.” They would do this by rescheduling cannabis to a federal prescription system, which would also leave to individual states the decision of how to handle medical and recreational use. Hmmmm….not at all sure that’s a good idea.

So, what would be the other ramifications for a change in scheduling? According to one source, here’s their take on what would happen.
Research would become easier, although not entirely so, since the DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have a monopoly on cannabis production. Natch….that doesn’t shock you now, does it?

Criminal justice Sadly, this would not necessarily change the penalties for those in federal prisons on federal cannabis charges like my friend, Lance Gloor. Here’s a link to a post on his awful predicament. It would still not make cannabis legal and people could still be prosecuted, their assets seized. It would probably discourage the feds from continuing their busts of cannabis businesses.

DEA raid on a medical cannabis dispensary in California in 2009

The tax and banking problems surrounding cannabis businesses…they are currently all cash…would not not change unless marijuana is rescheduled to III or lower which seems unlikely. Congress could enact new legislation for businesses selling Schedule II drugs, but what are the odds that will happen?

Medical This is the area in which there is much discussion and opposing views on what would happen. Doctors would finally be allowed to prescribe cannabis. This would force the federal government to acknowledge cannabis’ medical value. Cannabis research would finally open up. I think we all agree on these points. This is good news.

On the downside, would patients lose the right to grow their own plants? Would this be the end of medical cannabis dispensaries? Would patients simply walk into a CVS pharmacy to purchase cannabis? Would the pharmacists then have to go through cannabis products training in order to be competent to help patients? And what about the cannabis products? Will big Pharma be allowed to manufacture synthesized cannabis products in pill form? Will this be the end of the industry as we now know it?

Since the FDA will then be in control of cannabis production, will it take years, possibly decades, before the FDA approves cannabis products? Probably so. In which case, not a lot will change if the DEA reschedules marijuana. I guess we will all have to stay tuned and see what happens.

What we need is for marijuana to be descheduled….completely removed from the CSA. That nice Bernie Sanders sponsored such a bill. S 2237, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015. It has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing…but if you believe in it, please call your legislators and ask them to vote in favor of it.

Source: Leafly.com, Gage Peake, June 21, 2016

Okiedokie….that’s it for now. Always love to hear your comments!

I’ve written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the “Medical Marijuana” tag at the top of my page.

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