MJBizMag March 2022 - 40

Rescheduling would open a lot of
these opportunities, and it can be done
in a way that wouldn't undermine the
existing state markets, Groff added.
A Question of Timing
One key reason Groff believes
rescheduling will happen before
Congress legalizes a marijuana market
is the U.S. vote at the United Nations in
2020 to drop medical cannabis from a
category of the world's most dangerous
drugs. By supporting the change to
the international scheduling regimen,
the U.S. made it possible to reschedule
cannabis domestically without
violating international drug treaties.
" We think that the Schedule 2 step is
most likely in the United States, because
the U.S. was behind it internationally
and supported a Schedule 2 equivalent
in the International Narcotics Control
Board, " Groff said.
" The U.S., by supporting rescheduling
at the U.N. level, says it believes that
there is medical use of cannabis. And
we think the follow-through will be
marijuana becoming Schedule 2 in the
U.S., " he said, adding that rescheduling
would be a multiyear endeavor.
Another impetus behind the DEA and
FDA's desire to reschedule marijuana,
Groff said, is Congress' failure-in his
view-to effectively regulate hemp. As
a result, the rules governing how CBD
and other cannabinoids can be used
are confusing, giving rise to problems
such as the unregulated manufacturing
and retailing of delta-8 THC.
" The federal government (has) a
real desire to take these powerful
chemicals-both CBD and THC-and
make sure that they're handled
properly for public safety, " Groff said.
" The federal government, I think, in
general recognizes that this current
situation with CBD is really a bit of a
Wild West show. ... And I don't think
they're particularly excited about
repeating that same Wild West show
with THC-containing compounds.
40 March 2022 | MJBizMagazine
Rescheduling would also allow
physicians to discuss cannabis with
their patients and offer it as a treatment
" rather than the situation now, where
most physicians are fearful of even
mentioning it because they could risk
their own personal DEA registration, "
said Groff, a physician who is certified
in Pennsylvania to recommend medical
marijuana to patients.
" That said, I think there's a real desire
to get this material out into the medical
community as quickly as possible but
in more of a controlled way than just
completely descheduling it. "
Rescheduling Upshots
While considered a long shot,
marijuana rescheduling would have
several potential impacts, such as
access to more capital investment.
The most positive and evident effect
would be felt in cannabis-related
research. Rescheduling marijuana
would make it easier for businesses
to receive federal approval to conduct
research involving the plant and its
" We believe that rescheduling will
make research easier. There's less
restrictions, somewhat less rigor in
receiving approval to do research " with
Schedule 2 drugs, Groff explained.
Albert Gutierrez, CEO of MedPharm,
a Colorado company with a DEA
license allowing it to conduct cannabis
research, noted that rescheduling
would mean more companies applying
for Schedule 2 licenses so they could
conduct studies on proprietary
Such studies could likely be carried
out only by well-heeled companies
with the deep pockets to pay for the
" With this new paradigm, we believe
that MSOs can take their favorite
formulations and then start moving
those formulations in a federally legal
way through the FDA approval process, "
Groff said of multistate operators.
Rescheduling Downsides
Rescheduling skeptics acknowledge
research benefits but point out that
rescheduling also has many potential
For one thing, moving cannabis to
Schedule 2 would not eliminate Section
280E of the federal tax code. That
would happen only if the plant was
moved to Schedule 3 or lower.
Meanwhile, Adam Goers, vice president
at multistate operator Columbia
Care, said rescheduling would not
solve the " huge dichotomy between
state and federal law. "
" Just because the federal government
decides to reschedule through the executive
department's administrative action,
it's not going to change the way that
New York or Georgia or Florida are going
to do their programs, " Goers said. " To
be successful, any rescheduling effort
would have to recognize the work that
states have done to move this forward. "
What would ignoring the states
look like? Mandating marijuana
prescriptions for patients rather than
giving recommendations that enable
them to buy the drug, as is currently
the case in states with legal medical
cannabis markets.
" We need to make sure that how
rescheduling happens isn't a boon
for the illicit market, like we've seen
through the ambiguity of the Farm
Bill and what that means for delta-8
products, " Goers said. " The answer
isn't to make everything go through
double-blind drug trials and put it
under an FDA rubric. "

MJBizMag March 2022

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