LYNCH: Cannabis rescheduling not ideal, but it is progress

Published 5:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As the old story of Casey at Bat goes, “there is no joy in Mudville tonight.” Those are my exact sentiments when it comes to the news out of Washington DC that DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) approved the recommendation of the US Department of Health and Human Services to reclassify Cannabis from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule III substance. You might immediately think, well George since you own and operate a vertically integrated Michigan cannabis business that this might be tremendous news, so why no joyfulness?

 Well if you have read any of my previous submissions to this illustrious publication, you can easily understand the lack of enthusiasm for this new proclamation. Again if you know the backstory, this “re-scheduling” announcement is basically, as my Dad would say, “it’s just a fart in the wind”. 

Why am I not going around town high-fiving folks, why aren’t we driving around honking our car horns like we won the Super Bowl, why are we not going to have a party? Well  because for the last 87 years the US Federal Government has ruthlessly and in many cases mercilessly attacked and persecuted hundreds of thousands of individuals over a simple natural plant. 

What will this awesome rescheduling change in Washington do for the cannabis industry and cannabis enthusiasts, to be brutally honest “not much”. Yes my business may now get treated like a “real” commercial business, I may be able to now get a bank loan and credit card, I may be able to get a mortgage (that right folks, people who work in the cannabis industry are denied mortgages and loans more often than not) and I may be able to pay a less in taxes to the Federal Government but what else, not much really. Will cannabis be now Federally legal with re-scheduling, absolutely not, Schedule III drugs can’t be sold or distributed without a doctor’s prescription and since the Federal Government does not have a Medical Cannabis program, the point is moot. 

You see, the Feds (basically President Richard Nixon) had the DEA proclaim that cannabis had absolutely zero medical benefits – even though it was on every pharmacy shelf until 1937 – thus equating it with Heroin and Meth. Under Schedule III, cannabis is now classified the same as Tylenol with Codeine and anabolic steroids but you still need a doctor’s prescription to possess and use them. But what does that mean? For the folks in Indiana and states where there is no cannabis program/industry, nothing really at all. You can still be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for even minor possession or use. You still can’t travel (legally) across any state lines (nor Canada or Mexico for that matter) and there is still the “stigma” of an illegal product. 

Here in Michigan, the cannabis consumer should see no changes in the products and procedures for procuring and consuming cannabis. Michigan’s cannabis industry is not governed (yet) by the Feds. Cannabis is part of the State’s Law. Under Michigan Law cannabis is legally grown, manufactured, processed, sold and consumed  with little to no prosecution. Michigan cannabis consumers will see business as usual but there is the rub. 

Now that Cannabis will no longer be in the class of heroin and is Schedule III, what about all of the “weed prisoners” who continue to languish in jails for a simple natural plant? Not one word was mentioned about those individuals victimized by the draconian laws. We have learned that the war on drugs was a complete and utter failure. That incarceration for and enforcement of stupid laws does not work. When will our leaders finally wake up to the reality that cannabis is a medical product that is used and enjoyed by millions of Americans and will not go away. 

The true answer is “de-scheduling” or in other words the complete legalization of Cannabis, that my friends is the only solution to this very mixed up mess. Please don’t take my lack of enthusiasm about rescheduling as a negative, every major societal change tends to be slow and methodical. As my dear friend Robin Schneider the Executive Director of the MICIA (Michigan Cannabis Industry Association) says “everything in cannabis is baby steps.” Although rescheduling is not the ideal, it is progress.  

George Lynch is the owner of Green Stem Provisioning in Niles. He loves to share his  knowledge and passion for cannabis and to dispel the misinformation surrounding the cannabis plant.