Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jun 2016
Source: Portland Mercury (OR)
Column: Ask a Pot Lawyer
Copyright: 2016 The Portland Mercury
Author: Vince Sliwoski


Will Making Weed a Schedule II Drug Be Bad for Oregon?

I read that weed might be removed from Schedule I of the federal 
Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Is that bad for the Oregon scene?

NOT IN MY OPINION, but people disagree. The argument is that if weed 
were moved to Schedule II or III, big pharma would roll in and crush 
the little guys (that is, everyone who sells weed in the legit or 
gray market). But I think the little guys would be fine, just like today.

It is true that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has 
announced that it will consider rescheduling marijuana sometime this 
year. The agency even disclosed that it is sitting on a specific 
recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this 
sexy topic, although the DEA won't disclose what that recommendation 
is. I cannot give you a good reason for that and I doubt the DEA could either.

A few seemingly credible sources report that weed will be shuttled 
from Schedule I to Schedule II as soon as August. As per most federal 
policy when it comes to weed, that would be dumb. Barriers to 
research for Schedule II drugs are slightly lower, but the move would 
seat marijuana in the same restrictive category as opium, morphine, 
and cocaine. Those are all drugs the DEA deems to have "a high 
potential for abuse." The DEA must not believe this is true with 
booze or tobacco, substances left to state regulation.

If pot were rescheduled, FDA-approved cannabis-based drugs may become 
available for prescription via medical doctors. That sounds like a 
big deal, but it's already happening somewhat anyway. Approved drugs 
like Epidiolex, Sativex, and Marinol are all derived from THC or 
synthetic versions. People who use weed casually or in a certain way 
for a certain condition seem unlikely to seek out a pharmaceutical 
scrip for something they can buy without one.

Ultimately, the legal authority for Oregon's pot programs is 
unrelated to the classification of marijuana on the controlled 
substances ladder. The federal CSA outlaws the manufacture, 
distribution, and sale of cannabis whether classified as Schedule I 
or II (or elsewhere) under the act. And if the federal government 
will tolerate a Schedule I substance being sold here and elsewhere in 
the face of federal prohibition, it would also tolerate the states 
politely ignoring a Schedule II restriction.

Public support for ending prohibition now polls over 60 percent 
nationally, and the days of comprehensive and meaningful CSA 
enforcement have passed. Even if certain cannabis drugs are developed 
by big pharma and dispensed at Rite Aid, your neighborhood shop will 
run on its parallel track, selling flower, edibles, topicals, 
extracts, and concentrates-just like today. A dual-track system for 
weed would be strange, but no stranger than our present system.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom