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Experts reveal marijuana rescheduling predictions, worries, and woes

The DEA’s decision on marijuana rescheduling has ignited a firestorm within the cannabis community. From tears of joy to fits of rage, opinions about the shift run the gamut.


Most people within the nascent space acknowledge that rescheduling is a step in the right direction, but many argue the move doesn’t go far enough to free the plant (and the people still in prison for nonviolent cannabis crimes). Some operators championed the decision, while others expressed frustration and fear about the future. 


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After the announcement was made, GreenState put out a call for reactions—and the cannabis industry delivered. 


Societal progress, business benefits touted


Many of the statements put out about marijuana rescheduling focused on the perceived “wins”: the acknowledgment that cannabis does have medicinal value, fewer restrictions on licensed businesses, and potential tax windfalls. Some celebrated the fact any progress was made while others cast aside concerns regarding how rescheduling may change the way state-legal weed companies currently operate.


Howard Schacter, Chief Communications Officer, MariMed:


“It’s a historic moment for sure, but hopefully just the first domino to fall of more to come like SAFE Banking and federal legalization of cannabis. In the short term, the elimination of 280E will have a major impact on free cash flow for operators, which means more investment in jobs, product innovation, and other growth initiatives. It’s a win for consumers, the industry, and, of course, investors too.”


Omar Delgado, VP of Retail, Ivy Hall Dispensary:


“The proposed removal of cannabis from its unjust Schedule I classification marks a historic day for our industry. For years, the cannabis industry has faced undue scrutiny and legal hurdles due to its classification, which has perpetuated harmful stereotypes and disproportionately impacted marginalized communities, particularly communities of color. 


The removal of cannabis from Schedule I is not just a victory for the cannabis industry; it is a victory for justice, freedom, and human rights.”


John Mueller, Founder and CEO, Greenlight Dispensary:


“This is a major nail in the coffin on a failed 50-year prohibition policy. Good riddance; let it rest in peace. We’re finally headed in the right direction after all these years, but we still have a long way to go. This is a major milestone for a marginalized industry that’s been fighting for recognition. We’re more than ready to be recognized as a legitimate industry on its way to becoming a $50 billion market. It’s about time we embraced progress and leave outdated practices behind.” 


Alex Fotta, Owner, Capitol 9:


“It’s high time an administration acknowledged that cannabis is here to stay from a consumer and commercial perspective. 50% of Americans have tried cannabis, the industry provides over 440k legitimate, tax-paying jobs, and, get this: there is no record of anyone ever dying from ingesting cannabis! None of this even begins to touch on the huge health benefits cannabis-derived products have on people who are really struggling, or the negative impact it has on people who are unnecessarily vilified and imprisoned due to outdated laws.”


Darwin Millard, Technical Director, Cannabis Safety & Quality (CSQ):


“First and foremost, there’s no need to worry about this rescheduling killing the state programs currently in place. There’s lots of misguided discussions about this, but there’s truly no need for the type of fear-mongering we’ve been seeing online. Nothing is going to fundamentally change, Schedule III is just another step in the right direction.”


“Not exactly a cause for celebration…”


As some cannabis industry leaders praised the DEA decision, others questioned whether rescheduling would do more harm than good. LinkedIn posts from pharmacist Anthony Minniti, who believes that Schedule III would put an end to the marijuana market as we know it, went viral.


Many people agreed with the sentiment, expressing unease about the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and pharmaceutical companies in the cannabis space. Others argue that Schedule III will not help those already incarcerated for plant-related crimes or ensure that adult-use consumers will be free from persecution.


Bill Levers, Co-founder, Beard Bros Pharms:


“Here at Beard Bros, we see this as both an incredible positive from a medical and financial standpoint and, at the same time, a possible game-ender for many currently in the cannabis industry. If anyone who endeavors to be in the cannabis industry now has to have a Federal Drug Manufacturing License—that would be a death knell for most current companies, large or small.”


Lindsay MaHarry, journalist and plant educator:


“While this is a form of progress, it’s not exactly a cause for celebration. Rescheduling is mired in uncertainty as the current framework of the weed industry does not fit into the Big-Pharma-run, prescription-based model of how other Schedule III drugs are created, bought, and sold.


“Rescheduling does nothing to address the actual issues facing the cannabis industry—like letting prisoners out, the plant’s role in the prison industrial complex, and the mass extinction of small farms—instead focusing on semantics for the sake of feigning progress during an election year. I’m concerned about the trajectory the industry could take as a result of this decision, but it’s too soon to know how it will all shake out.”


“The fight is on even more now. Descheduling and decriminalizing as well as letting non-violent cannabis prisoners out is the only option that protects and honors legacy and equity operators as well as the targeted damage and sacrifices paid by those same communities.”


Stefanie Mulrooney, Director of Client Relations & Training, Global Organics Distro:


“I don’t see reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule III drug as a total win. Perhaps it is a step in the right direction. As someone who has used marijuana medicinally to manage TBI, chronic pain, and PTSD symptoms for the last eight years, I think declassifying marijuana as a drug would be a total win. 


“Marijuana reclassified to a Schedule III still puts it in the same class as pharmaceuticals. It also means marijuana is still considered a ‘drug.’ I hope that this is a step towards declassifying marijuana someday, and people will start seeing it for the natural plant medicine that it is.”


Kat Murti, Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP):


“Schedule III is a half step that does nothing to address decades of harms caused by the War on Drugs. It is not legalization or decriminalization. It will not stop arrests. It puts a target on young people’s backs, and many more young lives will likely be derailed by cannabis convictions as a result.


“If Democrats want to get young people to the polls this November, they need to show leadership on this issue. Schedule III is another cowardly half-measure by an Administration that has not released a single cannabis prisoner from prison over the last four years. It is not enough.”


Ed Rosenthal, author and activist:


“I must be the only advocate frustrated and angry about the government’s plan to slip marijuana from no medical use to restrictions as harsh as for codeine. Thanks a lot, but you can shove it.  


“NORML, established in 1970, has been advocating for marijuana legalization for 54 years. Meanwhile, the government patented CBD as a medicine over 30 years ago.  And we get this square inch of a pizza- Shove it. We want free, legal backyard marijuana and the right to commerce. These rights are already ours in many states; the government simply needs to acknowledge them.”


Mixed feelings most common reactions to rescheduling


Overall, the most common reactions to marijuana rescheduling seem to walk the line between uncertainty and cautious optimism. The majority of responses GreenState received recognized the symbolism behind the shift as well as the potential benefits to the industry while also calling for further progress.


Vladimir Bautista, Co-founder and CEO, Happy Munkey:


“There are pros and cons, but we’re moving the needle in the right direction. All the people who have been fighting for change for 80 years—people who went to prison or got deported over the plant—their work was not done in vain because we’re getting the attention of the federal government. The most important thing now is to get all people home from prison, but this is a step in the right direction. 


“Cannabis has so many medicinal benefits that we’ve been able to untap, and now scientists can really figure out how it can help people that have cancer, epilepsy, etc. Research has been really limited. We’ve yet to see what a healing of a nation really looks like because of those limitations.”


Katie Enright, Founder, Lavinia:


“My feelings on government rescheduling of cannabis? It’s a mix. There’s excitement for the opportunities it brings, relief for the societal shift it signals, and cautious optimism for its implementation. Yet, there’s also a tinge of frustration for the slow pace of reform, especially for those who’ve felt the brunt of prohibition’s impact.”


Mike Bologna, CEO of Dip Devices:


“By acknowledging cannabis’s potential for positive social impact and its role in equitable healthcare access, a crucial step toward dismantling the harmful legacy of the war on drugs and creating a more just and compassionate society has been taken. However, it must be followed by a full descheduling with accompanying prisoner release and expungement plans to more equitably address the issues of cannabis restriction.”


Lo Friesen, Founder and CEO of Heylo Cannabis:


“This is a win, but we still need to see how everything shakes out. Rescheduling will create more access to capital than ever before and will have huge tax benefits now that 280E no longer applies. Many cannabis businesses will finally be able to realize more profits or shift the way they operate because of this change. Cannabis retailers may be able to carry less cash and be less vulnerable to armed robberies and break-ins. Ancillary businesses, such as marketing, real estate, or mainstream insurance agencies, will be more willing to service cannabis companies. 


“We also can’t lose sight of what needs to get done in order to free those in prison for cannabis offenses, achieve safe banking, and ultimately federal legalization.”


Erik Knutson, Founder of Keef and Chairman of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH):


“Mainstream banks will remain cautious and most likely out until federal legalization or the passage of specific bills addressing banking issues in the cannabis industry.”


Alex Maniatis, Chief Brand Officer, THC Design:


“From my perspective, along with many in the community, this action represents a step forward in recognizing the therapeutic value of the plant. Yet, moving it to Schedule III, in our view, doesn’t completely resolve the federal ban that remains an overarching problem.”


Joe Hodas, President, Wana Brands:


“This news is a step in the right direction, but it, of course, does not go far enough until we properly de-schedule and minor cannabis offenders are released from prison and records are expunged. However, this is the current next step we have. 


“As such, we have to be diligent as an industry and as citizens of a democracy to use our voices during the public comment period to ensure that the tired old tales of the ‘evils of weed’ aren’t allowed to be the loudest voices in the room. We know that a wide majority of people believe in legalization, and we have to ensure the will of the people is heard and enacted.”


More questions than answers remain


When the DEA signaled it would work to reschedule marijuana, many felt Pandora’s Box opened. The million-dollar question is how exactly Schedule III would affect the industry as it stands, the consumers, and the overall legality of the plant itself. While many questions remain, the one thing that is seemingly clear: cannabis will never be the same.

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