Unlocking Potential: Shifting Cannabis to Schedule III Could Spark 100,000+ New Jobs
In a historic turn of events, the cannabis industry is poised to experience a transformation that could reshape its trajectory. Recent reports from Bloomberg News have unveiled a letter authored by Anne Milgram, a Drug Enforcement Agency administrator at the Department of Health and Human Services, advocating for the rescheduling of cannabis to a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This recommendation is founded upon a comprehensive Food and Drug Administration review of marijuana's classification, marking a significant step towards a more progressive approach to cannabis regulation.
For years, cannabis has languished under the burden of strict regulations, notably classified as a Schedule I drug - the most restrictive category - alongside substances like heroin. This categorization has long hindered research, medical applications, and the growth of a legitimate industry. And while cannabis supporters and advocates are wary to start planning celebrations so soon, after years of failed promises and unremarkable progress at the federal level, if we continue down the path that the DEA set in motion with this recent update, it could be just the spark we needed to ignite the entire industry.
Overview of the Controlled Substances Act and Its Classifications
The current categorization of drugs in America came to be under the Controlled Substance Act, which is a comprehensive federal law enacted in 1970 to regulate the manufacture, possession, distribution, and use of certain substances, including drugs and other chemicals. This system classifies drugs under different schedules, each corresponding to a different level of control and regulation. This is what the current classifications look like:
- Schedule I: Drugs that are considered to have high potential for abuse and have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the US. Includes drugs such as: Heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and cannabis
- Schedule II: Drugs that are considered to also have a high potential for abuse, but unlike Schedule I, they have some accepted medical uses. Includes drugs such as: cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and certain prescription medications like oxycodone
- Schedule III: Substances that have a lower potential for abuse compared to Schedules I and II. They have accepted medical uses and are subjected to less strict controls. Includes drugs such as: ketamine, and anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV: Substances with a lower potential for abuse than the previous categories, as well as accepted medical uses that are commonly used for medical treatments. Includes drugs such as: Xanax, Ativan, and Valium
- Schedule V: Drugs that have the lowest potential for abuse relative to the other schedules. They have accepted medical uses and typically consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. These drugs are commonly used for medical purposes, such as cough preparations containing small amounts of codeine.
NOTE: Neither nicotine or alcohol are scheduled drugs under the Controlled Substance Act
Implications on the Industry
While descheduling cannabis entirely remains the ultimate goal for many advocates, the move to Schedule III is a crucial step that could catalyze substantial growth.
Enhanced Research Opportunities and Medical Applications: Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III would facilitate expanded research initiatives and enable medical professionals to explore its potential therapeutic benefits more comprehensively, potentially leading to FDA-approved medications and improved patient care.
Tax Deduction Equity and Financial Growth for Cannabis Companies: The shift to Schedule III would release cannabis businesses from the burden of Section 280E, allowing them to claim standard business tax deductions and invest more effectively in their operations, driving financial growth and stability. RELATED: Listen to the Proud to Work in Cannabis Episode “The Roadblocks to Progress: How 280E is Crushing Cannabis Businesses” featuring Beau Whitney of Whitney Economics and Jeremy Berke of Cultivated News.
Industry Legitimacy and Regulatory Clarity: Cannabis' move to Schedule III would signify a shift towards industry legitimacy and establish clearer regulatory frameworks, attracting more mainstream investors, entrepreneurs, and professionals and fostering a sustainable and well-regulated market.
Implications on Consumers
For consumers, cannabis moving to a schedule III drug would create the opportunity for greater access to the cannabis plant, including in new ways we never thought possible.
Expanded Medical Access and Regulation: Rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis-based treatments, subject to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) controls. This change could lead to a more regulated and standardized approach to medical cannabis products, enhancing patient access to FDA-regulated therapies for various medical conditions.
FDA Oversight Ensures Quality and Safety: With rescheduling, cannabis products sold as medicine would come under FDA regulation, ensuring higher quality, consistent potency, and safer consumption for patients. This oversight would mirror the rigorous standards applied to other prescription medications, offering consumers greater confidence in the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based treatments.
Potential for Off-Label Prescriptions: Rescheduling cannabis could enable physicians to prescribe it for conditions beyond its initially approved medical uses. Similar to other prescription drugs, doctors might have the flexibility to recommend cannabis for "off-label" applications, broadening its therapeutic potential and meeting diverse patient needs within the boundaries of medical best practices.
Implications on Cannabis Employment
In 2023 we saw that there were over 400,000+ jobs in the regulated cannabis industry. Our experts of industry recruiters, economists, and in-house consultants are projecting that with a Schedule III classification, and end of 280E, there could be an increase of over 100K+ jobs.
Here’s what Vangst’s CEO & Founder, Karson Humiston said about it:
This is a positive incremental step for the cannabis industry. At Vangst, our goal is to create and fill jobs in cannabis, and the removal of 280E will create 100,000 brand new jobs overnight.
Proud to Work in Cannabis
The rescheduling of cannabis has ignited a spark of excitement and optimism throughout the cannabis community. This update stands as a testament to the progress achieved in challenging archaic norms, offering hope for enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and researchers alike. The unfolding developments promise a bright future for the industry, one that is more inclusive, innovative, and poised for growth. As the cannabis industry ushers in this new era, there's no doubt that its transformation will be closely watched and celebrated.
Be a part of the bright cannabis future ahead, and get ahead of the impending green rush, by creating a profile at vangst.com/sign-up today to browse open roles. Vangst also offers you to take advantage of our myriad of resources, from blogs on industry topics and tools on how to get hired in the cannabis industry, to courses from top cannabis businesses and brands – We have everything you need to spark or re-spark your job search in the booming cannabis industry. As the industry readies for transformation, there's a role for everyone in this dynamic sector, and Vangst aims to cultivate a vibrant community of passionate individuals
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