As we collectively "hurry up and wait" once again for the federal government to set aside years of propaganda and bias regarding cannabis, specifically "marijuana," many participants in both the hemp and marijuana industries are contemplating the potential changes if the DEA approves rescheduling. Let's break down a few key aspects.
Currently labeled as a Schedule I substance, marijuana is deemed to have no acceptable medical benefits, yet there's a federal medical marijuana program prescribing THC from marijuana plants, typically grown by the University of Mississippi, for conditions like glaucoma. After over 45 years of this program, one can't help but question whether more research is genuinely needed or if the government is simply confused about what constitutes as medicine.
Then there's the hemp industry, classifying Cannabis Sativa L with less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC content as federally legal. Understanding the biosynthesis of cannabinoids in the plant reveals that it primarily produces acid-based compounds like THC-A, CBD-A, and CBG-A. If the only concern is the decarboxylated form of THC-A, is marijuana not technically already legal?
Reading the farm bill adds another layer to this debate. It mentions the combined "total" THC, sparking discussions, especially regarding delta-8 and THC-A. However, a close examination reveals that pre-harvest reports, the sole required combined THC measurement, are taken 30-45 days before harvest depending on your states regulations. Post-harvest, as long as the Delta-9 THC is below 0.3%, it's compliant. Now to be fair to the proponents of “total THC” this does vary from state to state. For example look into the “adult use cannabinoid” provision Tennessee just amended into there hemp bill or the hemp bill in Idaho. All of this raises the question: is the federal government reluctant to acknowledge marijuana because it shouldn't have been illegal in the first place?
The patchwork approach across states—seen in Colorado, California, Tennessee, and Idaho—underscores that the cannabis industries are predominantly governed at the state level. Like alcohol, tobacco, and alternative medicine, the cannabis industry operates in a decentralized manner. Companies in the hemp space that ship or sell to all 50 states know this fact all to well. With that stated I’d like to point out for the consumers reading this. Please, please, please know how your state regulates hemp derived cannabinoids prior to ordering anything!!
Considering a potential rescheduling to Schedule 3, which includes drugs like acetaminophen and ketamine, several significant changes would occur. Shady companies might struggle to comply with regulations, paving the way for those operating above board to thrive. Marketing and labeling regulations would likely tighten, curbing lab shopping and preventing marketing to children. Importantly, it could mean avoiding the 280e tax form, gaining access to banking services without sudden closures, and facilitating easier access to federal drug trial research. All of these things I personally see as a win for the honest and ethical companies struggling to survive the race to the bottom that has become cannabis due to the hedge fund run companies and shady marketing practices of certain companies.
These changes could reshape the competitive landscape, allowing companies focused on developing pharmaceutical and over the counter cannabis based drugs for various ailments to succeed in their missions. This shift might enable genuine scientific research into the pharmacology and pathology of cannabinoids, revealing the plant's true potential as a natural remedy. Those of us that actually practice what we preach in this space have been hopeful for a easier pathway to use cannabis in a pharmacological manner for years. It’s currently a struggle to get anything done due to research barricades thanks to the current schedule 1 listing of marijuana.
Contrary to fear-mongering claims about rescheduling from some industry players. The University of Mississippi's decades of federally funded research and distribution of marijuana products to approved patients suggest that the intent isn't to strip the industry from those who built it. See you gotta remember the University of Mississippi in 2018 released it’s book: “Emerging Topics in Analytical Chemistry: The Chemistry of Cannabis” on it’s 50 year research celebration. This fear might stem from a lack of understanding of pharmacology and prescription/over-the-counter drug development. If not, this fear stems from a lack of understanding, a lack of capability to be transparent, compliant, and honest about the companies business practices.
The path to developing cannabis into an approved drug is complex, considering its numerous chemical components. While I won't provide a definitive answer, those knowledgeable about drug development are positioned well for the future. Amidst the fear-mongering from so-called "hype-beast" companies, it's essential to delve into drug development's vast world, exploring the avenues that could make cannabis an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API). To elaborate on these points, a pharmaceutical drug is limited to 7 ingredients. Which ingredient is the API is dictated by the pathology and proposed application of the drug in question. For example look at epidiolex with CBD as it’s API. Hell if you go down the rabbit hole far enough you’ll discovered certain terpenes are used as pharmaceutical ingredients. Most notably linalool from lavendula agustafolia for its anxiolytic properties.
With everything that has been stated above. I’m sure some of you that believe cannabis should be affordable are wondering won’t all this increase the costs of cannabis. In short, yes and no, just because something is a pharmaceutical doesn’t mean it can’t be a over the counter drug. Allow me to elaborate, take acetaminophen or fish oil for an example, most people know acetaminophen as Tylenol, Advil, or one of its many other names. All of which can be purchased over the counter at any drug or grocery store in the country for relatively cheap up to 500mg depending on your states laws. At the same time for a high dose 750mg+ of acetaminophen you need a prescription from a doctor, filled at a pharmacy. Cannabis under schedule 3 in my opinion would be handled in a very similar manner. Granted, the dosing questions of cannabis still remain. With the schedule 3 listing we would actually be able to delve into the questions of what a reliable dose of cannabinoids is.
In conclusion, skepticism toward fear-based narratives is crucial. The cannabis industry's future lies in ethical practices, compliance, and genuine dedication to the plant's medicinal potential. Consumers play a pivotal role by supporting transparent and ethical brands, ultimately shaping the industry's direction with their choices. We as a community and industry have a long way to go. To answer the question of is rescheduling a blessing or a curse for the cannabis industry as a whole. Personally, I think it’s a catch 22 because we will have some major players who’ve built there entire brand identity around marketing and influencers fight against regulation under the guise that we’re overly regulated. Which we’re really not on either side of the industry, granted some plant testing requirements are a bit much but not over regulated. So any proponent from that side of the isle, go try and open a tobacco farm, alcohol, or herbal medicine distillery and come back to me with your over-regulation argument. On the other hand we have those of use who’ve been slowly pushing forward with natural drug development I.e. psylocibin, ketamine, mdma, and cannabis. Who will praise new regulations and ability to scientifically research the plant we’ve preached as medicine for years. In short like most things in life it will be a win for some of use, company restructuring for others, and downfall for some.
I’ll leave you with this, cannabis whether you support it or not is a composition of many drugs that have many benefits for a large swath of the population of the planet. Most of the drugs you take to ease your ailments originally were derived from plants. If you are going to be for cannabis or against cannabis rescheduling it doesn’t matter to me. However, know what drugs you take because there are legal drugs on market in every state that just via addiction withdraws kill more people than their illegal counterparts combined (I.e benzos, opiates, & alcohol). If you didn’t know the drugs I’m referring to then question if you should be in a industry that makes you a legal drug dealer or be writing any form of regulation for drug development. I’m here for the medicine that the planet provides us not the profit, fame, or indemnity.