Rescheduling Cannabis in America

Celebration or disappointment? It all depends on one’s perspective.
On April 30th, 2024, a significant shift occurred in drug policy. Following the recommendation of the U.S. Health and Human Services and FDA, the DEA reclassified cannabis as a Schedule 3 drug, aligning it with substances like Ketamine, Codeine, steroids, and Marinol (synthetic THC). While this adjustment doesn’t equate to full legalization for adult use, it marks the end of 53 years of misclassification. For over half a century, cannabis was unjustly labeled as a Schedule 1 drug, erroneously devoid of medical benefits and unfairly associated with substances like heroin, PCP, and LSD. This move represents a groundbreaking reform in drug policy, a momentous shift since the inception of the War on Drugs.

We are now awaiting the White House Office of Management and Budget to review the legislation that will initiate the rescheduling process and establish a public comment period for Americans to express their views. Views vary, with some advocating for cannabis rescheduling from the CSA, while others fear it as a gateway drug as portrayed by prohibitionists. On the flip side, there are those who are celebrating the initial steps, recognizing incremental changes and the value of progress. Personally, I believe that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

While cannabis remains illegal, arrests and imprisonments persist. Yet, a shift is underway. Our power to reshape the dialogue marks the beginning of positive transformations. As time progresses, expect numerous benefits to emerge.

Research will be facilitated, marking a significant advancement. Until now, we’ve been stuck in a Catch-22 without randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials to assess cannabis’s efficacy for various conditions believed to benefit from it. This change will enable us to not only research it but also utilize cannabinoids cultivated by experts, rather than the NIDA/DEA-regulated cannabis that differs from products on the open market. We’ll delve into modern consumption methods like tinctures, FECO extracts, edibles, and various topicals. Comprehensive studies on the intricate chemical compositions of holistic plant formulations will be conducted, shifting the focus from isolates or synthetic compounds. Moreover, we’ll be able to compare cannabis treatments with conventional standards for pain management, cancer treatment, sleep disorders, mental health, autoimmune diseases, and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS. This will open doors for safe trials of cannabinoids on pediatric patients and other vulnerable populations.

The FDA-approved formulations resulting from this new research will be available at local pharmacies, even in states where cannabis is not legal. This accessibility will benefit residents nationwide, as insurance companies will cover the costs of essential medicines, removing the affordability barrier for many. Advanced science will propel a new chapter in the industry, introducing GMP formulations that offer standardized, consistent, and reliable plant-based medicines like Sativex. These innovative products combine various cannabinoids with botanicals, providing hope to millions underserved by traditional pharmaceuticals. These alternatives to opioids and NSAIDs aim to address chronic pain syndromes without the risks associated with current medications that harm millions of patients.

The Cannabis Industry stands to gain significant tax benefits upon the repeal of 280E, enabling deductions for standard business expenses. This boost in profitability is poised to bring stability and foster growth within the industry, potentially driving Congress to enact banking reforms that would eliminate the risky cash-based system. These initiatives are expected to unlock capital for investment in personnel, workforce development, and patient education systems. Innovative Tracking Apps are anticipated to emerge, aiding individuals in adjusting, optimizing, and selecting cannabis products, while online marketplaces will guide consumers towards more tailored care options.

In the evolving landscape of medical patient care, the standard will shift towards professional guidance from clinicians, nurses, and multidisciplinary teams. This change will allow budtenders to better serve recreational consumers without overstepping into medical advice territory. Regulatory compliance will improve as licensed professionals establish clear boundaries of professional conduct in an industry currently led by connoisseurs and enthusiasts.

Finally, medical and nursing schools are set to introduce education on the endocannabinoid system and its potential impact on various human diseases. Cannabis is poised to shift from a last-resort choice to a primary therapy. Proficient healthcare professionals will spearhead the implementation of new cannabinoid treatment pathways, emphasizing balanced formulations over high THC concentrations prevalent in medical programs. Leading dispensaries will establish a Patient-Centric Medical Gateway for cannabis, emphasizing quality care. The future holds evidence-based protocols detailing the most effective formulations, administration methods, dosages, and timing for specific conditions, complemented by tailored education on these innovative products. The integration of botanical cannabis products in healthcare settings is anticipated as we strive to broaden Ryan’s Law and compassionate use regulations to address gaps left by Schedule 3 medications or lack of insurance coverage for patients.

These insights stem from Sherri & Elisabeth Mack’s extensive analysis based on years of experience in the industry. While the assessment leans towards optimism, we welcome diverse perspectives and discussions as we progress as a nation. As Americans, we acknowledge the shortcomings of our healthcare and pharmaceutical systems and celebrate any advancements made.

Thank you
Elisabeth Mack MBA, BSN, RN
Sherri Mack BSN, RN


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