Marijuana advocates remain genuinely irked about the continued Schedule I status that the plant has under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substance are deemed to have no medical uses and a high potential for abuse. This simply isn’t the case with cannabis, as the glut of scientific evidence available proves. Therefore, it’s time marijuana is at least reclassified to Schedule II – for the reasons to be explained in this post. But if this change was to happen, what would that mean for the marijuana industry?
Marijuana is a medicine
The DEA still considers Schedule II drugs to have potential for abuse. But unlike Schedule I drugs, Schedule II substances are approved for medical use – although they still have to be prescribed. So how would this change affect marijuana?
Firstly, marijuana would be accessible anywhere in the United States with a prescription – people could go to their local pharmacy and obtain marijuana or extract products. However, as Schedule II and a prescription drug, cannabis would become very appealing to big pharmaceutical companies which operate from a pure profit perspective.
Cannabis has received much more mainstream acceptance in recent years, especially thanks to CBD medication – support for medical and recreational marijuana is at all-time highs. In making marijuana Schedule II, the federal government would be accepting that the plant can be used as medicine. This new reality would mean big pharma companies could pour billions into medical, prescription marijuana. In doing so, they would usurp the smaller, grassroots companies which have served the marijuana community fantastically, with their focus on the user experience.
Stop Big Pharma from taking over
And therein lays the risk of making marijuana Schedule II, something that on the surface sounds beneficial to the industry. Giving the plant up to Big Pharma countries would put them in complete control of products and prices. Worryingly, some are already poised for such a takeover.
GW Pharmaceuticals has FDA approval to essentially exclusively study CBD, with the right to “investigate a new drug” (IND). GW Pharmaceuticals is allowed to style its CBD products as dietary supplements, something no other company can do. Furthermore, the billions of dollars’ worth of CBD research carried out by GW Pharmaceuticals has all been government approved. Should cannabis be rescheduled, they would surely be one of the leading manufacturers of prescription marijuana.
But other companies would also try pushing their financial weight, looking for a slice of the pie. Whether it’s one Big Pharma company or a few, there’s still no way that an independent dispensary would be able to compete in both the medical and recreational markets.
As a result, it may well be better for marijuana to remain illegal in the eyes of the federal government to offer protection for smaller vendors. We have seen independent companies be innovative with products and strains, something which couldn’t be guaranteed under Big Pharma control. Those developing products at the moment are typically lovers of marijuana, whereas Big Pharma would just stick to what makes the most profit.
Also, marijuana being grouped with other prescription meds may not paint the industry in a good light, given the huge issues such products are currently having with side effects and addictiveness. Marijuana is neither of these things, but if categorized with others that are, there’s a chance the negative connotations will stick, especially if the media does a poor job of explaining cannabis to the masses.
As a community, we have to realize the special connection that exists between companies and consumers. If Big Pharma gets their hands on it, that will disappear, and those who have fought so hard for legalization may stop their efforts if cannabis becomes a Schedule II substance.
What do you think about marijuana’s legal future – should it be classified as a Schedule II drug? Do add your thoughts and stories in the comments.