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Thursday, 05/16/2024 2:52:04 PM

Thursday, May 16, 2024 2:52:04 PM

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White House Announces Cannabis Rescheduling

Iris Dorbian

May 16, 2024,02:34pm EDT
White House announces cannabis rescheduling

In October 2022, President Biden requested federal agencies review reschedule cannabis. After an ... [+]GETTY
In an unprecedented but widely anticipated move made by a U.S. president, today Biden announced that his administration is rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. A 60-day public comment period will commence before this action is finalized and implemented.

The news was first reported by the Associated Press on April 30.

Currently, cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is criminally prohibited by federal law and has a "high potential for abuse." Rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule III substance means it is legal to posses in licensed pharmacies under a doctor's prescription. Examples of Schedule III drugs are anabolic steroids and ketamine.

For leading professionals and practitioners, the news is a major step in the history of the fragmented legal U.S. cannabis industry. Although it doesn't end prohibition and inequities still remain, rescheduling is yet another sign of the increasing mainstream acceptance of cannabis.

Brian Vicente, founder of Vicente LLP, a cannabis law firm, said rescheduling would greatly alleviate the herculean tax burden of many licensed cannabis businesses since they are currently selling a Schedule I substance.

"We work with hundreds of licensed cannabis businesses, and the ability to deduct ordinary operating costs under the Schedule III proposal would be a game-changer for them," explained Vicente. "This proposal will release cannabis businesses from the crippling tax burden they are currently shackled with and allow these businesses to grow and prosper.”

Emily Paxhia, a managing partner at cannabis-focused investment firm Poseidon Asset Management, also applauded this historic White House action particularly as it follows solid evidence that legalization and regulation at the state level do work. "The tired and fear-based tactics of the prohibitionists are thin and will not play well in a fight against this progress," said Paxhia. "The industry, the states, the HHS, and the medical community have data to show that reform has been productive. We will continue to work the process with pragmatism and facts until the final scheduling is achieved."

Wendy Bronfein, co-founder, chief brand officer and director of public policy at medical cannabis brand Curio Wellness, also expressed jubilation; however, she tempered her celebratory tone with caution, underscoring the ultimate goal—descheduling.

“The only way to eliminate stigma and legitimize the legal cannabis industry is to fully remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act,” stressed Bronfein. “For as long as cannabis is listed as a scheduled substance, there will always be an inherent conflict between federal and state law. We encourage the federal government to seek a balance between exercising federal oversight and enforcement responsibilities while preserving each state’s ability to determine the best approach to cannabis within its borders.”