Rescheduling Cannabis Shifts The Paradigm By Finally Recognizing Its Medical Value

By Shawn Hauser

May 7, 2024

Vicente LLP partner Shawn Hauser argues in a new Marijuana Moment op-ed that the federal decision to reschedule cannabis is “a historic and critically important shift”—with the government “finally (and officially) recognizing the efficacy and safety of cannabis for medical use.”

“Schedule III will not lift all barriers to research, but it may contribute to the advancement of urgently needed research, which should be prioritized and vigorously pursued.”

Contributed by Shawn Hauser, Vicente LLP

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) decision to reschedule cannabis represents a historic and critically important shift in U.S. drug policy. By moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the federal Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. government is finally (and officially) recognizing the efficacy and safety of cannabis for medical use.

There are valid and important reasons why Schedule III is not the most appropriate classification for cannabis. It does not achieve imminently needed criminal justice reforms; state-regulated cannabis activities remain federally illegal; and some barriers to research and effective regulation remain. A strong case can be made that cannabis, like alcohol, should not be included in the drug schedules. There are also reasons to believe that “descheduling” was not in the realm of possibility in this administrative process and that rescheduling will hasten the route to that goal.

Rather than debating what the federal government could have or should have done, let’s take a closer look at what it is doing and why it matters. Specifically, let’s look at its implications for medical patients and the enduring impacts that will come from the federal government officially acknowledging cannabis’s medical value.

Legitimacy in the Medical Community

Despite evidence of medical cannabis use dating back thousands of years, a growing body of promising research and doctors recommending medical cannabis in 38 states where it is legal under state law, cannabis has spent the last 50 years on Schedule I—which is reserved for substances with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Recognition of cannabis’s medical benefits has grown considerably in recent years, but it remains less accepted and less understood than many other medications and treatments. [Continue reading on Marijuana Moment]

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