The decision by the DEA to leave cannabis is Schedule I, alongside heroin and LSD, echoes across the media, leaving many questioning why. But the actual repercussions for the industry aren’t as negative as it might initially seem. Here’s a breakdown of 5 key things to remember from the DEA decision.
1. DEA decision will stoke the political fire
Every single cannabis person that I’ve talked to so far is just more energized, more fired up, and more enraged by this. We will take that anger, and we will turn it into campaign donations and votes.
If they had given a little ground, the DEA might have satiated the appetites of activists for years as rescheduling reforms slowly took place. Instead, as Matt Karnes, founder of GreenWave Advisors put it:
It’ll put the pressure on Congress.
Congress, yes, and everyone hoping to get into or keep their offices this November that is. Mind you, some candidates might take the DEA signal to stay soft on cannabis, but voters who have seen the sway of science and healthcare will know which way to turn.
2. Research industry expansion
The DEA did say they would open up research to cannabis. This is “great news”, according to Dr. Sue Sisley, who is part of a study on cannabis and veterans starting shortly.
This new policy permits commercial growing operations to be approved with the purpose of producing a product that can be used in research and also for potential commercial sales. The federal monopoly on the production of marijuana for federally-regulated research, in existence since 1968, is now over.
Sisley believes the reference of the DEA to “entities” allowed to conduct research means private companies could expand the access of cannabis cultivated to the exacting standards needed to qualify for research purposes.
3. Studies themselves
Steve DeAngelo believes,
It’s just the same runaround that we’ve been hearing for years. I don’t see a silver lining to this cloud. I’m just profoundly disgusted with the DEA. Their promise of opening up more research is just another lie.
Others agree that whole plant studies or further research into cannabis would fare better by rescheduling at least to Schedule II, where cocaine and methamphetamine sit. Pharmacist Joseph Friedman, COO of Illinois dispensary PDI Medical agrees.
It’s going to hamper the entire research effort that’s going to show that cannabis can be a very life-saving, life changing-drug.
We’re continuing to fight an uphill battle; but as more states come on board, it’s going to be harder for the federal government to refuse what’s clearly in front of them, and that’s that cannabis is clearly not as dangerous as cocaine and methamphetamine.
4. Investing in the industry
Rather than putting a damper on the dollar signs in investors’ eyes, the decision might have sparked further interest. A limited playing field means positive figures for everyone involved. Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of Bulbulya Consulting Group out of California, stated,
It got a lot of investors interested. It’s going to encourage a lot more money to come into the industry.
Karnes, mentioned above, said,
It’s the status quo, from a valuation standpoint. Had the DEA rescheduled, or there were some progress, perhaps it could have raised valuations in the sector. So it’s still a good entry point.
Marijuana Business Daily, a news-source for investment and business news on the industry, says that the index of the publicly traded U.S. cannabis stocks compiled by MarijuanaIndex.com remains largely unchanged. GW Pharmaceuticals, the biggest company in cannabis medicine, is actually up over 1%.
5. Hemp gets a big break
Less publicized in the DEA debacle: their affirmed support of industrial hemp. The agency outlined guidelines for hemp cultivated for research purposes, validating the industry. Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industry Association, said two big benefits come from this,
There are two positives from the DEA announcement. One is that it confirms that private parties can conduct pilot programs under the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That had been previously disputed by the DEA.
The second boon, according to Steenstra, is that hemp grown under the 2014 farm bill now has the ability to qualify for USDA research funding,
It makes hemp eligible for the same kinds of research funding that other crops have had available to them.
And the more that either variety of the plant sees the light of the public eye, the better it gets for activists. Taking the taboo and the false stigma away from mainstream opinion on cannabis remains crucial to the legalization effort. Every little bit helps.
Do you think the DEA decision will live up to the promise of allowing expanded research? Can voters open their eyes and finally boot prohibitionists out of office this November? Tell us on social media or in the comments below.