What if cannabis becomes a Schedule II drug on August 1, 2016?

Is the DEA About to Reschedule Cannabis? Rumors on the internet say Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II this Summer, it has people asking is the DEA about to reschedule cannabis?. These rumors stem from an article quoting an anonymous source claiming to be an attorney for the DEA. Anytime online prognosticators speculate about what the federal government’s next policy change concerning cannabis, those prognostications call for a healthy dollop of skepticism. My take on this is that until an official announcement is made, the commentators are merely floating ideas based on overheard information. Even if there is some mid-level attorney at the DEA talking to reporters on the down-low, that does not mean that their word is worth the airwaves that carried it. The higher-ups are unlikely to take such a big policy step without consulting the White House and Congress, either of which could prevent a policy change.

But, what if it is true?

According to the DEA, Schedule II drugs are those with “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” They are “considered dangerous,” and include drugs such as Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamines, methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the production and sale of this diverse list of drugs, which includes some of the most dangerous street drugs available today and some drugs most commonly prescribed to children.

Perhaps most notably, the only reason they are Schedule II rather than Schedule I is that they have some recognized medical use. As a pharmaceutical product, the FDA has jurisdiction; the DEA’s attention only turns to these drugs when they are sold on the black market.

Moving Cannabis from I to II would get the DEA off of the backs of medical and recreational producers across the nation. Finally, they would not have to go to work with the fear that 50 federal agents might kick in their door with guns, dogs, and search warrants. What a relief.

Instead, they will have an entire book worth of FDA regulations concerning the production, marketing, sale, and use of those drugs. These regulations cover a range of activities, from which new drugs can be sold and to whom, to what claims can be made about their therapeutic abilities. In fact, the FDA has already begun cracking down on companies that produce high CBD cannabis products. If cannabis becomes a Schedule II drug, then we can expect this sort of FDA activity to increase greatly.

Ultimately, there may be many negative impacts of a Schedule II shift. Such a shift would be short-sighted and overly cautious. Caution for the sake of the baseless reefer madness fearmongers. Myopic burdens placed on all those who rely on the cannabis industry for their livelihoods, their medicine, and their mental health.

Virtually every single cannabis production facility in the country (both recreational and medical) will struggle to meet the stringent FDA standards for pharmaceutical production facilities, and many will be forced out of business altogether. Many small co-ops and large recreational businesses alike will be pushed to insolvency by mandatory heavy overhead costs and an inability to continue operations without significant capital expenditures.

These Schedule II burdens on cannabis would most likely increase costs and decrease availability. This dangerous combination would lead to a resurgence of black market weed. Not only would this be a much worse choice for consumers, but this resurgence could also again give otherwise legal revenues to criminal enterprises. Gangs and cartels don’t follow consumer safety laws; they don’t pay taxes; they don’t care how young their customers are; they don’t take responsibility for their actions. Medical and recreational cannabis businesses have proven that they can, have, and will.

A resurgence of black market weed would be incredibly counterproductive, but it can be foreseen and prevented by avoiding stupid half measures. IMHO, rescheduling cannabis to Schedule II would be a stupid half measure.