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Industry Sounds Off on Cannabis Rescheduling

Emotions are high, and opinions are mixed.

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Editor's Note: Please send additional comments to [email protected] and [email protected]This collection will be updated

Yesterday, the AP reported the DEA is moving toward reclassifying cannabis as a less dangerous drug from Schedule I to Schedule III. 

Emotions were high, and opinions were mixed, but pretty much everyone in the industry had a take on the news. Below is a collection of statements from around the industry. 

Adam Terry, CEO and Co-Founder, Cantrip

Rescheduling won't legalize cannabis or let a doctor prescribe it, but it will allow existing marijuana companies to be taxed like any other business β€” essentially a huge investment in the overall sector by the government by way of tax relief. It doesn't affect Cantrip directly as a hemp company, but improves the overall economic health of the industry and continues to inch towards legitimization in the eyes of the public.

Adam Wilks, CEO, Carma HoldCo

Embracing this momentous shift in marijuana classification isn't just about changing policies; it's about a new era of understanding and opportunity. At Carma HoldCo, we've always championed the transformative power of cannabis, not just as a product but as a catalyst for positive change. This reclassification will not be just a regulatory adjustment; it's a validation of what we've known all along: cannabis isn't a threat; it's a solution. It's time to rewrite the narrative, break down barriers, and usher in a future where cannabis is celebrated for its potential to heal, inspire, and empower. And as we stand on the cusp of this historic moment, let's remember: we're just getting started.

Alyza Brevard Rodriguez, Owner, The Other Side Dispensary

Reclassifying cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III means so much for our dispensary, The Other Side, and New Jersey. It's not only the potential tax benefits and financial relief through write-offs, especially during the crucial early years of opening a business, but it also opens doors for more research opportunities, reducing stigmatization and legitimizing the industry further. These changes could usher in a new era of acceptance and growth for cannabis businesses, fostering innovation and expanding its role in the economy.

Anthony Coniglio, CEO, NewLake Capital Partners

This rescheduling carries significant implications for the entire cannabis landscape. Firstly, it will alleviate the burdens imposed by 280E tax regulations, bolstering the credit quality of cannabis operators, including those within NewLake's portfolio. We project that our tenants stand to collectively save over $400 million annually in taxes, leading to increased cash flows for their businesses. Moreover, this pivotal move by the federal government is poised to stimulate additional investment in the sector, potentially enabling operators to strengthen their balance sheets, thus enhancing the industry's credit quality, including our tenant base.

Christian Stella, CEO, Precision Compounding Pharmacy

Changing cannabis to a Schedule III substance has significant implications for its legal status and how it is regulated in the United States. Cannabis was previously classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning it is considered to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Rescheduling to Schedule III implies a recognition that the substance has accepted medical uses, a lower potential for abuse (compared to Schedule I and II substances), and a relatively lower risk of dependence. This rescheduling has many different potential effects. This includes the acknowledgment that cannabis has accepted medical uses, which could open the door for more research into its medical applications and potentially lead to broader medical access. 

Rescheduling could also facilitate increased research into the therapeutic benefits and potential risks of cannabis, as researchers might face fewer restrictions when studying Schedule III substances. A rescheduling could also influence public perception, potentially reducing the stigma associated with cannabis use for medical purposes. The shift of cannabis to Schedule 3 opens up new possibilities for healthcare providers. It means they can now tap into its medicinal benefits more easily, making it more accessible for those who might benefit from it.

Evan Nison, Founder and President, NisonCo 

While the potential rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule III is a step forward, true progress lies in complete de-scheduling and regulation akin to alcohol. Let's remain cautiously optimistic but not lose sight of the ultimate goal: full legalization and equitable regulation.

John Hartmann, CEO, Ascend Wellness

Today marks a historic step forward from the Federal government on cannabis reform. The DEA's agreement with the HHS to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III is a pivotal move that opens various opportunities to cannabis operators like Ascend. This favorable industry development could improve customer and patient access, enhance access to funding, provide broader research avenues, and more. As we navigate this transformative landscape, Ascend eagerly anticipates exploring further potentials, including potentially up-listing to major exchanges. We look forward to seeing how this plays out in the coming weeks.

John Hartsell, Co-founder, DIZPOT

Cannabis has long been known as a safe and beneficial plant medicine and deserves a place in the legal medicinal marketplace. Prohibition only enriches big pharma while imprisoning good people. De-scheduling the plant is the only way mainstream use of cannabis will be adopted and consumed for life-saving purposes.

John Mueller, Founder & CEO, Greenlight

This is a major nail in the coffin of a failed 50-year prohibition policy. Good riddance; let it rest in peace. We're finally headed in the right direction after all these years, but we still have a long way to go. This is a major milestone for a marginalized industry that's been fighting for recognition. We're more than ready to be recognized as a legitimate industry on its way to becoming a $50 billion market. It's about time we embraced progress and leave outdated practices behind.

Michael Bologna, CEO, Dip Devices

The rescheduling of cannabis represents a significant shift in the government's understanding of drug policy's ethical dimensions and the damaging individual and community-level impact that the restriction of cannabis has had. This shift is a moral imperative more than a long-overdue legal response to what has occurred at the state level for cannabis regulation. 

By acknowledging cannabis's potential for positive social impact and its role in equitable healthcare access, a crucial step toward dismantling the harmful legacy of the war on drugs and creating a more just and compassionate society has been taken. However, it must be followed by a full descheduling with accompanying prisoner release and expungement plans to more equitably address the issues of cannabis restriction

Michael Markarian, CEO, Contempo Specialty Packaging

It's truly encouraging to see the DEA recognize cannabis's medical potential by rescheduling it from Schedule I to Schedule III. This decision not only aligns with growing scientific evidence but also removes longstanding obstacles to research and development. It's a momentous step toward a more rational approach to cannabis policy, and I'm hopeful it will pave the way for further progress in the industry.

Mike Sassano, CEO, Somai Pharmaceuticals

The global medical cannabis community and every health regulatory agency entered the New Year with a present from the biggest and most well-funded health authority in the world, the HHS, which said that cannabis is both safe and has medical benefits for pain and at least 15 other indications. This is the single most significant finding conducted in the largest medical market (U.S.), with findings attributed to 30,000 physicians and 6 million registered patients for an almost 20-year period. Safe for a population and medical benefits from the HHS will ignite a global medical cannabis boom that will sweep the globe.

Sarah Carter, Communications Director, Symple Seeds

The reclassification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III reflects a growing recognition of the nuanced nature of cannabis and its potential medical applications. As a company deeply invested in providing comprehensive seed solutions, we view this development as a positive step toward removing unnecessary barriers surrounding cannabis, paving the way for more stable, inclusive and sustainable industry practices.

Sarah Gersten, Executive Director, Last Prisoner Project

The Last Prisoner Project believes that complete descheduling and full legalization of cannabis is a necessary step towards correcting past injustices and creating a fair and equitable criminal legal system. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that individuals burdened with past cannabis convictions have their records expunged and that all cannabis prisoners are released, regardless of the federal scheduling decision. Despite not achieving full legalization, we must use this historic moment to push the fight for cannabis justice forward, and we intend to do so by leveraging this reclassification for broader criminal legal reforms as outlined here.

Shawn Hauser, Partner, Vicente LLP

FDAs acknowledgment of the medical efficacy of cannabis and relatively low potential for abuse is one of the most significant shifts in drug policy in this century. That the federal government considered the widespread medical use in state medical marijuana programs underscores the impact of state reforms that have helped millions of patients. This is a very positive step towards the end of prohibition and for public health, and signals that the Biden administration is poised to complete its expeditious review to reclassify cannabis.

Sundie Seefried, CEO, Safe Harbor Financial

The profound impact of rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III would signify a crucial shift in the perception of cannabis, recognizing its medical potential and solidifying its legitimacy in the financial realm. From a banking and lending perspective, we believe that the reclassification of cannabis will broaden lending opportunities for cannabis businesses, leading to access to lower interest rates, increased access to capital and improved financial stability across the industry. 

This newfound access to traditional financing channels has the potential to stimulate growth, innovation and compliance efforts within the industry, ultimately fostering economic development and job creation. Furthermore, the global implications of potential rescheduling cannot be overlooked. Elevating cannabis to Schedule III demonstrates the United States' leadership on an international scale and has the potential to positively influence agreements and international treaties with organizations like the United Nations and World Health Organization. This shift could hold significant weight, especially for other countries seeking to challenge current classifications and legalize cannabis sales.

Rob Pero, Founder, Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association

The rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule III is a significant step towards destigmatization of plant medicines and the empowerment of Indigenous communities. However, along with the unprecedented opportunities of this landmark decision, we will also face significant challenges as we push toward our mission to create a just and equitable post-prohibition landscape. Now, more than ever, tribes must unite to protect our interests and assert our power as sovereign nations.

We must remain vigilant against the potential pitfalls of exploitation and external influence, especially as the industry intersects with global commerce and trade platforms.

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