“What’s that smell? Politics!”

In January, it was disclosed that the Department of Health and Human Services had recommended to the Drug Enforcement Agency that cannabis rescheduling, moving it from Level 1 to Level 3, should occur. The recommendation was made after research from the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that cannabis wasn’t on the same level as heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. So, as we patiently await the final outcome (keep in mind the initial suggestion of rescheduling occurred in 1972!), here are some of the many benefits such a move would create.

Taxes! The bane of existence for just about everyone in the space who has been hit with exorbitant and ridiculous excise taxes at the local, county and state levels. Reading through quarterly reports from publicly held companies in Canada, for example, reveals tax rates on revenue in the 50% range. It’s tough to make a go of it when the government takes that much right up front without really dealing with the biggest elephant in the room… the illegal market. Until political leadership develops a cohesive and cogent plan on enforcement, the illegal market is the place to be if you want to make money.

Speaking of which, the United States is a huge influence and leader when it comes to drug enforcement globally. So, as we lead into this new world, others will follow like the UK, Australia and now Germany. This move could change the world economy, with no over-dramatization necessary.

Rescheduling would ease restrictions on research not only for humans but also for animals. Having seen the benefits of cannabis use for both, we can begin destigmatizing the plant and its use, making it more socially acceptable. Pharmaceutical companies would also be able to explore even more uses and benefits of cannabis.

For years, the lack of safe, credible banking options has put many operators at risk, as well as their employees and customers. While cannabis rescheduling won’t resolve all state/federal issues, it will make the space much more attractive to investors, encourage current businesses to expand and make the consumer product much safer.

All of us who operate in this space would benefit from having more regulation on the safety and true impact of cannabis. Much like what we experienced with CBD products when they became legal, without some rules, it became a modern-day snake oil for any purveyor in search of a quick buck. Increasing consumer access will have a great impact on tax revenue and will hopefully lead to a smaller hurdle for psychedelics to become more mainstream. With the amount of empirical data and anecdotal experience emerging, there are tremendous benefits to making this more available.

This administration made it clear last year that they would like to see rescheduling, and let’s not be naive; whoever leaked the memo in January about this topic did so with the intent to curry public favor. Now, we will see if this move was self-serving to gain support from more progressive mindsets or a great excuse so that if the DEA comes back without rescheduling, they have a perfect way to say, “Well, I tried!”

It’s been over 50 years since we started kicking this can, and the DEA can certainly continue to do so. Let’s hope that we can quickly get to soliciting public feedback on this issue and get closer to resolution regarding cannabis rescheduling. Cannabis has been here for thousands of years and existed before any of us knew the power and benefit of the plant… and I would surmise that it will continue to exist for thousands of years beyond today. If politicians can host a “Beer Summit,” they can certainly host a “Cannabis Summit”… hopefully with more success.





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