Here we are, nearing the middle of August, and we still haven’t gotten a decision from the DEA about whether they will be rescheduling cannabis from its ridiculous current status as a schedule one drug. Tensions are climbing as the community’s anticipation is slowly turning to anger at the DEA for continuing to drag their feet on what should be an easy decision. The kicker is that people wouldn’t be so frustrated had the DEA not imposed a deadline on themselves to release the determination. That deadline was supposed to be July 1st, but we all watched as that day came and went with no decision yet from the Drug Enforcement Administration. I have no idea why they would give themselves a public deadline that they can’t even honor, because it certainly isn’t doing much for public relations. At first the DEA made it clear that they would be announcing their decision whenever they please and will not be held to a deadline, even if they made it themselves, but now they are once again claiming that they’re decision is almost finalized. This news has been met with a lot of warranted skepticism.
Colorado, California, Washington and other states have been a part of a massive years long experiment to test the waters with recreational and medicinal cannabis. The DEA was supposed to be using them as an indicator of all the good and harm that the drug could bring to state’s citizens and economy. Well now we’re a few years in, and the majority of the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Not only is cannabis replacing the number one cash crop of each state and driving tax revenue in extraordinary ways, but we’ve seen very few negative social implications. A recent study showed that teen use of cannabis in Colorado hasn’t increased since legalization. Meanwhile, thousands of patients young and old are treating themselves with cannabis and using it to replace the nasty pharmaceutical cocktail that they’re used to. Despite all the good we’ve seen it do, cannabis is still classified as a schedule one drug meaning that the DEA believes it has absolutely no medicinal value. As dangerous as heroin and not fit for scientific studies, is how the DEA still sees cannabis.
A DEA spokesman claims that the agency is still in its final stages of interagency review and that the decision should still be released fairly soon. Others within the industry are less hopeful and don’t believe that it will happen in 2016. That might be the safe bet considering we’ve been waiting for decades for this moment to finally happen, but maybe there is still hope for the Obama administration to accomplish this monumental task. Obama has definitely been the most cannabis friendly president that we’ve had in recent history and many thought he would finally put an end to the reefer madness. The vast majority of issues that have plagued the cannabis industry in its infancy has been because of the federal government’s classification. Dispensaries can’t do business with banks, which has led to thousands of employees being put in greater risk at cash only locations. A security guard in Colorado tragically lost his life in a shooting that might not have happened had the incentive of the dispensary’s cash not been a factor. More recently a teenager narrowly escaped facing federal drug charges for one gram of weed in Oregon. The time to reschedule is now, we can’t afford to wait and put more lives in jeopardy.