WASHINGTON – As the Biden Administration actively reviews the classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, a diverse group of cannabis companies and organizations is partnering with scientific and legal experts to launch the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform (CCSR). The new coalition is engaging with stakeholders in the Executive Branch – including at the Food and Drug Administration, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice – to provide critical information and analysis concerning the urgent need for cannabis scheduling reform.
Cannabis has widely accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse, and per the DEA, there are no overdose deaths attributable to cannabis. Yet cannabis is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, on par with heroin and above methamphetamine, opium and fentanyl. The Schedule I classification means that cannabis is wrongly considered to have no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse and no accepted safety standards – even under medical supervision. As a result, cannabis continues to be harshly criminalized, Americans continue to be incarcerated for possession and use of cannabis, and state-licensed cannabis businesses operate under extreme regulatory burdens.
President Biden, who disagrees with this classification, took a historic step last October by directing his Administration to review the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. This presidential directive kicked off a multi-agency administrative process which is currently underway.
“We formed the Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform to help bring cannabis regulation into line with modern science, medicine and law,” said Bryan Barash of Dutchie. “The schedule I classification of cannabis has done irreparable harm for decades, particularly in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. We are optimistic that the Biden Administration will take significant steps toward closing this destructive chapter of US history.”
“This is a critical opportunity for society to have important regulations catch up with science, as millions of Americans use medical cannabis each year in the 38 states where it is legal,” said CCSR advisor and cannabinoid researcher Jahan Marcu, PhD. “Changing the status of cannabis will allow for objective assessments of the benefits and risks of different products available to consumers, while ensuring consistent and standardized products are available.”
The process initiated by the Biden Administration should result in the rescheduling or descheduling of cannabis. Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III, IV or V would mark historic progress toward ending federal prohibition and present a wide range of advantages over the unacceptable status quo. Descheduling would demonstrate cannabis’ low potential for abuse and represent a dramatic step toward achieving President Biden’s criminal justice and racial equity goals.
“Every day, we see the crushing burden that cannabis' Schedule I status places on regulated cannabis businesses – particularly small and social equity operators – and communities impacted by the war on drugs,” said Marijuana Policy Project President and CEO Toi Hutchinson. “The Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform strongly agrees with President Biden that it's time for the US to adopt a modern, evidence-based and equitable approach to cannabis.”
CCSR is actively partnering with elected officials, scientific, medical and legal experts, and cannabis companies and organizations in support of cannabis scheduling reform. The coalition is also preparing to release a comprehensive report on the classification of cannabis and the urgent need for reform. The report will detail the critical benefits of descheduling cannabis or rescheduling it to Schedule III, IV or V.