DEA to decide cannabis rescheduling in July while Sanders pushes for descheduling
Discussions on legalizing marijuana are making quite a stir in the United States, especially now with the Presidential elections underway. Presidential hopefuls, though on different stances, and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), are tackling marijuana legalization through legislations, and possibly rescheduling, or even descheduling, the drug from Schedule I.
Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that may end the Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015. The legislation would give states the autonomy to create their own marijuana laws and policies without federal interference, aside from removing it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
“Today, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. I believe that we should remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. States determine whether they want to legalize marijuana or not, but it should not be a federal crime,” declared Sanders during his New York’s Washington Square rally last Wednesday.
While Sanders is pushing for de-scheduling marijuana through legislation, the DEA is set to decide on just rescheduling marijuana to a lower category.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Schedule I drugs are substances with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse. Drugs belonging to this category are also considered the most restrictive and may cause severe psychological dependence such as heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and ecstasy, among others. The Washington Post revealed that a memorandum from the DEA was distributed to several US Senators indicating that the agency agrees to settle a five-year-old petition to amend marijuana’s current Schedule I category in July.
Historically, petitions were filed before the DEA in 2002 by coalitions for marijuana law reform and health advocacy organizations and in 2011 by then-governor Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. According to a Norml article, both petitions have been unequivocally rejected by the DEA. Add to that, the agency’s scheduled decision in July does not necessarily mean it will be in favor of rescheduling marijuana.
Previously rejected petitions still put the cannabis industry players’ hopes in limbo regarding DEA’s attempt to settle petitions. Even members of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) remain doubtful of the DEA’s decision in July, according to the Marijuana Times
“I’m a cynic and don’t think they will reschedule,” said Director of Government Relations at NCIA, Michael Correia, during the April 12, second quarter meeting of the cannabis business members held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
However, even before reports on Sanders legislation and the DEA’s attempt to resolve petition, the cannabis industry has hit the billion dollar mark in 2015. Fortune revealed that total legal cannabis sales in 2015 soared by as much as 17 percent, hitting the $5.4 billion mark and is expected to hit $6.7 billion in sales by the end of 2016.
Furthermore, legalization of marijuana in 24 out the 50 states attracted several investors to fund cannabis company startups. According to Investopedia, investors are attracted to this emerging market because there is plenty of room for innovation and the market has already been established. Due to such growing demand, investors who were once keen on funding tech startups are slowly shifting to fund the cannabis industry. The same Investopedia report mentioned Calvin Broadus, Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, to have put his money in investing marijuana startups. Even crowdfunding platforms are becoming interested in the cannabis industry following the JOBS ACT.
Leafly, a cannabis startup company created three former Kelly Blue Book employees, offers users the opportunity to rate and review various cannabis strains. The former cannabis startup is now under Privateer. On the other hand, Los Angeles-based medical cannabis company, Med-X became the first company to run a Regulation A+ crowdfunding platform. Med-X has now provided all-natural and non-toxic all natural pest management products as well as alternative solutions to cannabis cultivator’s everyday problems.
While many are still waiting on the DEA’s rescheduling decision, some political entities, organizations, and companies pour effort towards the hope that a descheduling might happen in the future. Still, even while these changes are still pending, the time is right for cannabis startups to up their game through product innovations because venture funding and crowdfunding platforms are pouring in.