Why the DEA is taking so long to reschedule marijuana

The Biden administration has been slow to follow through on its last campaign promise to help the cannabis industry…wait for the DEA

In 2012, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational cannabis. Science, public opinion, how we consume, and support from groups as diverse as HHS and Fox News viewers have already moved to support legalization at the federal level. In the last election, the Biden administration committed to helping the industry. A key factor is his support of veterans. Veterans, along with federal and medical research, have shown that cannabis is a solid aid for post-traumatic stress disorder. As the country also grapples with an opioid crisis, experts believe medical marijuana can be part of the solution. But the government hesitated, and now it appears another agency is driving change. Why is it taking the DEA so long to re-regulate marijuana? Experts weigh in.

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Terran Cooper, a leading cannabis expert at Falcon Rappaport & Berkman Law, shares his thoughts. “While we have comparable examples of the transition to controlled substances, the impact of the transition to cannabis is beyond anything we have ever seen. There are a number of policy issues that need to be addressed by the DEA, including the existence of international drug treaties that may have delayed the DEA's review (although Congressman Kamlager-Dove and others have argued that existing treaties should not prevent rescheduling ). The far-reaching consequences of a possible cannabis debt restructuring may also have clouded the situation, as numerous parties have tried in different ways to influence the DEA's review. “

“While it is possible that the DEA is attempting to navigate its way by rejecting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation for cannabis rescheduling, many are skeptical of that likelihood. The HHS recommendation is binding on the DEA (21 USC 811(b)) on scientific and medical issues, meaning that in order to deny a cannabis reschedule, the DEA would have to rely on other relevant data beyond the recommendation of HHS. This is a big challenge, even for the DEA, which has always been anti-cannabis.”

Jesse Redmond, managing director of Water Tower Research and an avid industry analyst, agrees. “It is critically important to recognize that the rescheduling process is occurring during an election year and that it is possible that Democrats will coordinate their efforts to achieve maximum political impact.” Many point to the week of April 20th. , which falls on a Saturday this year, in the DEA's response to the HHS recommendation. This would allow time for the public comment period and final decision before the November election.”

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“There is no simple explanation for the delay. Some factors include the fact that the DEA and FDA have different interests in regulating cannabis, the lack of clarity as to how the DEA would regulate the reclassified drug, how the new regulation and various state cannabis laws would overlap, the loss of federal tax dollars “Cannabis business expenses become deductible and political considerations in a presidential election year,” said Lonnie Rosenwald of Zuber Lawler.

The industry needs support as consumer demand increases but the cost of doing business becomes prohibitive. President Biden and Vice President Harris are traditionally anti-marijuana opponents, so one wonders whether their lack of urgency or support is impacting the DEA's slow decision-making.

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