As marijuana rescheduling has gained traction in Congress and DEA has announced it will rule on a rescheduling this summer, a common concern has emerged in the cannabis reform community and among industry actors. It goes something like this: “If marijuana is moved to Schedule II, the Feds will shut down our state’s legal system.” The worry is that this administrative change will make marijuana pharmaceuticals legal and thus require all such products to be removed from the market until FDA approval is granted. And of course, clinical drug testing and FDA approval often takes years and hundreds of millions (if not more) dollars in research—something cannabusinesses can’t afford and time medical marijuana patients don’t have.
Alas, these concerns are overstated. Rescheduling will not shut down the thousands of existing medical (or for that matter recreational) grows, processing facilities and dispensaries that serve people in about half of the U.S. There