MJBiz - November/December 2023 - 70

From Dispensaries to Pharmacies?
Legal and retail gurus explain how marijuana
sales could change under Schedule 3
By Omar Sacirbey
I
f marijuana is moved from Schedule 1
to Schedule 3 of the Controlled
Substances Act, that would expand
both access and product selection
for medical cannabis patients. But
rescheduling likely wouldn't impact
how state-regulated marijuana
dispensaries operate.
" Schedule 3 allows essentially a
new pathway for cannabis to be in
the marketplace, which is through an
FDA-approved drug channel, " said
Amy Rubenstein, a partner with the
international law fi rm Dentons.
Flower is unlikely to be sold in pharmacies any time soon. Photo by Irina/stock.adobe.com
PHARMA PIPELINE
Rubenstein explained that moving
marijuana to Schedule 3 would make
it easier for companies to develop
cannabis-based drugs and get U.S. Food
and Drug Administration approval
for them. Once drugs have FDA
approval, they can be purchased with
a physician's prescription at federally
licensed pharmacies.
She added that developing drugs,
going through the requisite studies
and getting approval takes years,
so it would be a long time before
consumers are able to shop at
pharmacies for federally approved,
marijuana-based drugs.
Medical marijuana patients,
however, could continue to buy
regulated cannabis products from
state-licensed dispensaries. And
state-regulated recreational marijuana
retail owners would be able to operate
without fear that federal authorities
would crack down on their operations,
observers said.
" The state-legal markets are not
going to disappear, " Rubenstein said.
'SIGNIFICANT
UNDERTAKING'
Justin Brandt, partner with Scottsdale,
Arizona-based law fi rm Bianchi &
Brandt, agreed.
" I think at some point it's possible
that we'll see (medical marijuana
products) in pharmacies. But even
when cannabis is at Schedule 3,
companies or whoever wants to sell
under the purview of the FDA/federal
law, they're going to have to go through
clinical trials and will have to do the
same steps that Big Pharma goes
through in getting an FDA-approved
drug to market. That is a signifi cant
undertaking. It costs a lot of money.
It takes a signifi cant amount of time.
We're talking years. So, we're quite a
few years away from something like
that, " Brandt said.
FLOWER STAYS PUT
While the FDA could eventually
approve medical marijuana, don't
expect the agency to approve fl ower or
70 November-December 2023 | MJBizMagazine
other combustible products, experts
warned.
" I can see it being sold in
pharmacies, but I think it would
have to be in a different form factor. I
just don't see a pharmacy or a Kaiser
Permanente selling cannabis fl ower.
It'll probably be in a pressed-pill form
or something that's a medical-grade,
concentrated product, " said Vince
Ning, CEO of California marijuana
distributor Nabis.
Ning added: " I think dispensaries
will still exist. I hope that directto-consumer
channels also start to
open up. I think that there needs to
be more access to channels, because
that's what will help eradicate the
illicit market. "
Omar Sacirbey is senior
writer for MJBizMagazine.
You can reach him at omar.
sacirbey@mjbizdaily.com.

MJBiz - November/December 2023

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MJBiz - November/December 2023 - CT1
MJBiz - November/December 2023 - CT2
MJBiz - November/December 2023 - Cover1
MJBiz - November/December 2023 - Cover2
MJBiz - November/December 2023 - 3
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