Tuesday, June 6, 2023
As federal marijuana reform remains stalled, new coalition formed to advocate for rescheduling under CSA
As many of my students should recall, I have long stressed in many of my marijuana classes that a complicating question in the debates over possible federal reforms concerns whether advocates should prioritize rescheduling or descheduling of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Most reform advocates certainly have a clear preference for removing marijuana entirely from the CSA (descheduling), which would mean marijuana is treated the same legally as alcohol and tobacco. But rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III or lower would seem to be more politically viable in the short term and would at least soften some of the legal problems created by the current conflict between state marijuana reforms and the drug's federal status.
Though the rescheduling versus descheduling debate has been long simmering, it has gotten some renewed energy since Prez Biden in October 2022 directed his Administration to review the Schedule I status of marijuana under the CSA. In addition, with Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives and perhaps poised to take back control of the US Senate in 2024, robust descheduling marijuana reforms from Congress may not be a realistic possibility for many years to come. Consequently, it perhaps make sense that folks still eager for descheduling would, at least in the short term, now be open to supporting rescheduling.
Against this backdrop, it is not to surprising to see this news from Marijuana Moment under the headline "New Coalition Of Major Marijuana Groups Launches Push For Scheduling Reform, Even If It Falls Short of Legalization." I recommend this lengthy piece in full, as it effectively highlights various aspect of the rescheduling versus descheduling debate. And here is how the story starts:
As federal agencies work to complete a marijuana scheduling review at the president’s direction, a new coalition of major cannabis companies and advocacy organizations has launched, aiming to advance the conversation in a way that embraces the potential benefits of an incremental rescheduling move even as they push for broader legalization.
The Coalition for Cannabis Scheduling Reform (CCSR), which detailed its plans exclusively to Marijuana Moment ahead of an official launch on Tuesday, will be working with advocates, stakeholders, lawmakers and administration officials to promote education about the need to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Unlike other leading advocacy groups focused on full descheduling and legalization, however, its members are also united around the idea that moving cannabis to Schedules III, IV or V of the CSA would represent “historic progress” that shouldn’t be discounted.
But while there’s general agreement that such a move would resolve key federal tax issues for the industry and ease research restrictions, some advocates have cautioned against anything short of complete removal of marijuana from the CSA, insisting that a mere rescheduling would effectively capsize existing state markets and give way to further big business control of the industry.