It’s a time of growing pains for the cannabis industry. And like the TV show that gave both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirk Cameron their start, it is leading to some mixed results.
While social and legal acceptance is on the rise, so too is the prospect of increased regulation. You might not go to prison for selling weed in some states, but you do have to put up with inspections from government agencies like the IRS and possibly soon the FDA.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton played catch-up with her 420-friendly rival Bernie Sanders this week by announcing her stance of rescheduling marijuana’s federal status at a town hall meeting in South Carolina last weekend. The former secretary of state said she intends to downgrade cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II controlled substance if she is elected to the presidency. The move would aid the budding medical marijuana industry in removing legal obstacles so “that researchers at universities, national institutes of health can start researching the best way to use it,” Clinton said.
But rescheduling marijuana would have other effects as well. Because the federal government defines a Schedule I substance as a drug that has no medicinal value, medical marijuana providers do not currently have to submit their product to federal inspection. But that would all change if it became a Schedule II substance. According to NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre, such a change could mean millions of dollars for marijuana manufacturers as they struggle to get their product approved by the Food and Drug Administration
“The semantics and logistics would drastically change,” St. Pierre told Market Watch. “It would go from something that is a moral turpitude to something that is investable and you can hold someone accountable for.”
Though the change is schedule is likely inevitable for cannabis, it’s uncertain how soon it will take place, so industry professionals are for now forced to plan their future by ear.