Create a free Cannabis Equipment News account to continue

NCIA, Stakeholders Hail Rescheduling as Significant 'First Step'

Welcome to the future.

I Stock 1221630813

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is planning to change cannabis from Schedule I status to Schedule III in the federal Controlled Substances Act. The historic event, which acknowledges the medical benefits of cannabis products, must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget before the DEA initiates a public comment period.

Marijuana and THC have been listed as Schedule I substances in the federal Controlled Substances Act since 1970, a designation reserved for drugs with high potential for abuse and no medical value. A move to Schedule III acknowledges the medicinal value of cannabis.

Rescheduling would not resolve the conflict that exists between federal law and the laws on the books in 38 states which have regulated the legal production and sale of cannabis for medical or adult use, but a move to Schedule III would provide federal tax parity to state-legal cannabis businesses by allowing them to take deductions for ordinary expenses currently prohibited under a little-known provision of the federal tax code, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).

The NCIA says the cannabis industry widely agrees that rescheduling as a significant positive step but that broader federal reforms are needed to resolve the many issues plaguing the industry as a result of federal prohibition.

“Moving marijuana out of its absurd classification as a Schedule I drug is long overdue and we applaud the administration for finally acknowledging the therapeutic value that has been widely accepted by the medical community and millions of medical cannabis patients for decades,” said NCIA CEO Aaron Smith in a statement. “While this is undoubtedly a very positive first step, rescheduling will not end federal marijuana prohibition and doesn’t harmonize federal law with the laws allowing some form of legal cannabis in the vast majority of the states."

Smith adds that the DEA and FDA need clear enforcement guidelines that ensure the tens of thousands of state-licensed businesses responsibly serving cannabis to adults are not subject to sanctions or criminal prosecution under federal laws.

"It’s imperative that Congress build upon this development by passing comprehensive legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and forge a new regulatory framework for whole plant cannabis products.” Smith said.

Just over half of Americans live in a state that has made cannabis legal for adults over 21 and three out of four Americans live in a state that has legalized cannabis for medical use.

“Let's start out by celebrating our victory," said Leslie Bocskor, CEO of Indoor Harvest. "The rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III is a massive win for the United States of America. It is a massive win for people who have been pushing for criminal justice reform. It is a massive win for those who are looking for decades of catastrophic policy to be reversed and start seeing sensible policy applied ... That being said, now the real work begins. How do we rectify Schedule III federally with state adult use regulation? How do we work on federal regulation in general? Now is the time for the federal government and state governments to work together to eliminate the black market. Welcome to the future.” 

A November 2023 Gallup survey found that 70% of Americans support making cannabis legal for adults and a recent Pew Research Center poll found that less than 10% of Americans still support marijuana prohibition. 

"Today’s historic rescheduling proves what cannabis enthusiasts have always known—cannabis is a legitimate medicine with proven uses," said David Craig, CMO, Illicit Gardens. "While this isn’t the dream of full recreational legalization at the federal level many were hoping for, this is the next best thing and one with immediate positive impacts for all cannabis businesses and consumers alike. If there’s one thing cannabis businesses are, it’s resourceful, and with these loosening of restrictions we can finally see what this industry really can do.“

More in News