Leaf Nation Logo

Opinion: The Impact of Reclassifying Cannabis

A growing majority of Americans do not want Cannabis to be treated as the equivalent of heroin, as is currently the case

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

In the ever-evolving landscape of Cannabis legalization and regulation, the rumor of reclassification of the plant within the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has become a hot-button issue. Utah Leaf reporters delve into the heart of the matter, shedding light on the potential consequences and public sentiment surrounding this crucial debate.

The Misrepresentation of Cannabis Safety

The first point of contention lies in the way Cannabis is categorized within the CSA. Many argue that reclassifying it to a lower schedule continues to misrepresent the herb’s safety relative to other controlled substances. For example, it currently shares Schedule I status with drugs like heroin – despite a growing body of research suggesting its medicinal properties and lower potential for harm.

When we examine the CSA’s schedules, it’s evident that Cannabis is in dubious company. Anabolic steroids and ketamine, both classified as Schedule III substances, and benzodiazepines in Schedule IV, are considered less dangerous under federal law. Even the comparison to alcohol, an unscheduled substance, highlights the stark disparities in how these substances are regulated.

Public and Cultural Consensus

The second point of concern centers around public and cultural consensus. A growing majority of Americans do not want Cannabis to be treated as the equivalent of heroin, as is currently the case. However, they are equally uncomfortable with the idea of classifying it as a Schedule III substance such as ketamine, which can only be legally possessed with a physician’s prescription.

The cultural shift in attitudes towards Cannabis has been undeniable. State after state has passed laws allowing for medical and recreational use, reflecting a more accepting view of pot’s potential benefits and safety. This changing landscape creates a palpable dissonance between federal policy and the desires of the American people.

State-Federal Conflict

Perhaps the most critical aspect of this proposed reclassification is its impact on the growing chasm between state-level Cannabis legalization and federal law. While individual states have embraced herb reform with vigor, federal laws have remained stubbornly unyielding.

The conflict between state and federal law has far-reaching implications. State-legal Cannabis businesses continue to face challenges in accessing banking services, filing taxes and complying with regulations. Additionally, individuals and patients in states with legal Cannabis programs are left in a legal gray area – never sure when federal authorities might intervene.

Even if the federal government reclassifies Cannabis as a Schedule III substance, this change does little to resolve these deep-rooted issues. Every state law that currently conflicts with federal law will persist in this state of discord. For Salt Baked City residents and businesses operating within the burgeoning pot industry, this legal ambiguity remains a major cause for concern.

The debate surrounding the reclassification of Cannabis within the CSA is far from resolved. While some argue for a more nuanced approach that reflects the evolving science and changing public sentiment, others believe that retaining its Schedule I status is a necessary safeguard.

Utah Leaf’s Cannabis reporters will continue to monitor this issue closely, providing our readers with up-to-date information on the shifting landscape of Cannabis regulation. As state and federal authorities grapple with this complex matter, the voices of the people and the needs of a growing industry hang in the balance.

This article was originally published in the November 2023 issue of Utah Leaf.

View our archive on issuu.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.