Marijuana Industry To Create More Jobs Than Manufacturing By 2020 California Marijuana Is Not Safe to Smoke California marijuana tax and tracking systems behind schedule Republican Introduces “The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” Why the Legal Marijuana Industry Is Suddenly Worried Military Veterans With PTSD Begin Marijuana Clinical Trials Marijuana Drug Could Extend Lives of Brain Cancer Patients, Study Finds Contaminated Medical Marijuana Believed To Have Killed California Cancer Patient Marijuana lobby goes mainstream Marijuana Prices Fall As Growers Flood The Market With Pot Scientists to Government: Make It Easier to Investigate Marijuana Likely scenarios for marijuana under Jeff Sessions as attorney general Six Predictions For The Marijuana Industry In 2017 Study finds traffic fatalities decline with medical marijuana laws This Company Is Using Brain Scans To Help You Select Medical Marijuana DEA dismissed its own misconceptions about marijuana Duke University Uses Identical Twins to Prove Weed Doesn’t Make Kids Dumb Marijuana industry brought to a standstill by pesticide testing problems Massachusetts Marijuana – Now What? Trump’s Attorney General Is a Bad Scenario for the Marijuana Industry Pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana Marijuana Plants Flourish Under Energy-Saving LED Lights Legal Marijuana Could Drive A New Tech Boom California marijuana would fail Oregon’s standards, study finds When Medical Marijuana Is the Doctor’s Orders, Will Insurers Pay? Marijuana Sales Spike at Thanksgiving Legal marijuana users can’t legally buy a gun Maine marijuana legalization nears recount California marijuana industry is a ‘$25 billion opportunity’ NFL Players Searching For Painkiller Choices Hope For New Marijuana Rules Test for marijuana impairment? A UMass prof has an app for that States Offer Legal Marijuana – Investors And Marketers Line Up Washington Marijuana Outsells Liquor Colorado’s paradox: Recreational marijuana is legal, but it’s tough to use Attorney General Selection Signals Hazy Future for Marijuana Legalization Marijuana: Will it soon be bigger than the NFL? Will Legal Marijuana Lead To More People Smoking Tobacco? A legal snafu made medical marijuana tax-free in California for 2017 Advocates Wait for Trump’s Stance on Legal Marijuana Marijuana may help control substance abuse, mental health disorders California Marijuana is Legal. Now What? Legislators file bills aimed at decriminalizing Texas marijuana Massachusetts Marijuana gold rush? Walmart of Weed? Not so fast CDC: More people are using marijuana, but fewer are abusing it Industrial hemp industry gets kick-start from oil extract US court upholds ban on selling guns to marijuana card holders Marijuana startups could be hurt once legalization hits Marijuana Drug Helps Kids With Rare Forms Of Epilepsy In Studies Libertarian Gary Johnson Explains Why He Supports Legal Marijuana U.S. Gov’t Will Legalize Marijuana on August 1 Police and Prison Guard Groups Fight Marijuana Legalization in California Study: States are losing out on billions of dollars by keeping marijuana illegal New law could put some medical marijuana dispensaries out of business Will Canada become America’s cannabis capital? 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This summer may be a big moment in the national conversation about marijuana. With a decision coming by July 1, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency could partially legalize medical marijuana, and the federal government could usher in a new era with a comprehensive and multi-structural approach to pot policy.  Just don’t expect to fill a marijuana brownie prescription at your local drug store any time soon.

Marijuana has been a Schedule I narcotic since 1970.  That means, in the eyes of the federal government, marijuana has no medicinal value and is highly addictive.  It is illegal under federal law to grow, possess or sell it.  To put this in perspective, cocaine is a Schedule II narcotic — legally available under highly restrictive circumstances.  The DEA’s options are to keep marijuana as Schedule I or to reschedule or de-schedule it. De-scheduling would allow use for non-medical, recreational purposes like alcohol.  Rescheduling would allow use like a regular prescription issued by a physician and filled by a pharmacy under a DEA license, like Codeine. If this happened, marijuana prescriptions would almost certainly be allowed only in traditional medicinal forms, such as pills and extract drops and perhaps topical lotions and nebulizers.  It’s unlikely that the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration would allow prescriptions for smokable marijuana or pot brownies and other edibles.

Although legal under state law in more than half the states, marijuana is still illegal federally, and federal law trumps. Since 2009, the federal government has followed a policy of non-enforcement.  In short, the federal government is not enforcing federal marijuana laws, as long as anyone involved is in compliance with state marijuana laws.  It is akin to the non-enforcement of traffic laws, for speeding a few miles per hour over the limit.

If the DEA keeps marijuana on Schedule I, the federal government risks continued suffering by those with true medical ailments and continued lack of scientific study.  The DEA would be wildly out of step with rapidly changing public opinion.  If the DEA de-schedules marijuana, big tobacco companies could take over, and the fears of many anti-marijuana advocates would be realized.

Rescheduling marijuana for medical/prescription use, but shutting down the state recreational side, would result in unintended negative consequences. Because prescriptions are not taxed, state and local jurisdictions would lose millions of dollars in tax revenues. Colorado collected nearly $135 million in medical and recreational marijuana taxes and license fees in 2015 on a combined medical and recreational market of nearly $1 billion. With a prescription-only industry, states would lose their current marijuana-related jobs to existing pill-manufacturing companies.

With rescheduling to a prescription-only federal system, the residual state systems will continue to grow.  More states will legalize medical and recreational marijuana, and only a small piece of the consumer market would be siphoned off by the marijuana prescriptions allowed through rescheduling.  Therefore, the federal government will need a comprehensive approach to a new dual-system era.

All relevant goals and concerns can be addressed with a three-part approach:

1. Reschedule marijuana from Schedule I (completely illegal) to Schedule III (legal for medical purposes, allowed only by prescription).  This would only address a small percentage of the current market, as most marijuana in Colorado and other legal states is consumed by smoking, vaping and edibles.  Rescheduling would legalize marijuana testing and patient studies for universities.

2. Continue the federal non-enforcement policy for recreational marijuana.  Rescheduling for medical purposes would align with the federal government’s current stance towards state-legal recreational structures.  Under a dual system, the recreational market would increase rapidly with customer demand for non-prescription smokable marijuana and edibles. Jurisdictions with excise taxes on recreational marijuana would bring in additional revenues for regulation based on federal enforcement priorities.

3. Create a coalition of states to adopt uniform, comprehensive regulation and enforcement for recreational marijuana to address public safety concerns.  A coalition of states could create model laws and regulations to create uniformity in packaging, labeling, portion size, marijuana oil extraction safety standards, pesticide use, testing, etc., as well as joint enforcement. The federal government could add its support for public safety and consumer protection by: 1) amending banking laws to allow marijuana businesses to have checking accounts and receive loans, and reduce the crime associated with cash-only businesses; 2) allowing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to award patents and trademarks; and 3) amending the IRS Code to allow marijuana businesses to take standard business deductions.

 

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