What Happens If Marijuana Becomes A Schedule 2 Drug?

Changing the scheduling of cannabis may not be the ideal solution to marijuana legalization.

Jan 5, 2016

Supporters of marijuana legalization often criticize the schedule 1 status applied to the drug under the Controlled Substances Act. In order for the drug to be considered schedule 1, it must have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical applications, and/or a lack of supervision for the medical application of the drug. In the case of marijuana we are able to challenge each of these stipulations with scientific backing. But what happens if marijuana’s scheduling is changed—perhaps to schedule 2.

Is it a medicine?

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Schedule 2 drugs can still have the potential for abuse, but different than schedule 1 drugs, they have been approved as medicines—so long as a medical practitioner prescribes them. So, let’s imagine marijuana was changed from schedule 1 to schedule 2.

As a schedule 2 drug, people can go to their doctor and get an actual prescription for marijuana which they will likely fill at their local pharmacy. This sounds reasonable enough, but you must remember that large pharmaceutical companies, whose endgame is all about profit, manufacture most prescription drugs.

Now that marijuana has become more of a mainstream drug, we are inundated with studies that support it as a medicine. Theoretically, if marijuana were to be moved to schedule 2 status it would be because the government finally accepts its viability as a medicine. Who better to provide the medicine than the big pharmaceutical companies who have dominated the prescription medicine world for decades?

Keep it out of their greedy hands

The point is, if marijuana were changed to a schedule 2 drug we would be placing the production power in the hands of the Big Pharmaceutical companies. They are already poised for this very situation. For example, GW Pharmaceuticals holds the FDA approval for investigating a new drug (IND) regarding cannabidiol CBD. The IND is essentially a patent that prohibits other companies from claiming their CBD products are beneficial as dietary supplements. GW Pharmaceuticals spends billions of dollars annually to investigate the benefits of medical cannabis and hemp, and they do so with the government’s explicit permission.

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If marijuana is removed from the schedule 1 list of drugs, there will be a free-for-all rush to obtain market share by the pharmaceutical companies. Compared to the pharmaceutical industry, all marijuana dispensaries are financial dwarfs. Pharma companies will outspend the current medical and recreational marijuana industries to the point that they can no longer compete. This is one of the industry’s worst fears, and yet it is not widely publicized.

In a way, marijuana must maintain its “illegal” status on the federal level in order to protect the artisanal value of the industry. Imagine mass produced marijuana that is controlled by Big Pharmaceuticals. The image is bleak at best. One of the beauties of the current industry is the incentive to innovate and create new strains, new experiences, and new feelings. We are currently dealing with widespread addiction issues related to prescription medications, and if marijuana were to become one of the prescription products in the arsenal of pharmaceutical companies, it might not be too long before there is an overwhelming argument suggesting it is addictive too.

The marijuana industry belongs to the people currently. The second it is taken from us will be the same moment in time that many long time supporters of legalization may turn their backs on their fight. Marijuana is special for many reasons—it is time to protect those reasons.

Should marijuana be changed to a schedule 2 drug? Let us know what you think on social media or in the comments section below.

Jan 5, 2016