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Schedule 3 and Controversy

By Amanda Ferron

This is purely an opinion piece. Written by me, Amanda Ferron, and I am not an expert. Just someone who has used Cannabis as a therapeutic in my daily life for 20+ years. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the opinions of PayRio or anyone, other than Amanda, associated with PayRio.

The DEA announced this week that it is officially moving to reschedule Cannabis under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). This would move Cannabis from Schedule 1, alongside drugs like Heroin and LSD, to a Schedule 3, with Ketamine and Anabolic Steroids.

And while some are hailing this as a “historic moment” in the movement to decriminalize Cannabis, others are saying this is nothing to get excited over. 

There are a lot of different opinions swirling around over this news… And fair warning, this isn’t going to be a “the bright side of things” kind of post. This is a blunt look at the proposed move from my perspective. So let’s dig into a couple of the issues, shall we??

Cannabis Will Still Be Federally ILLEGAL

Schedule 1, Schedule 3… It will still be illegal to grow, possess, manufacture, or distribute Cannabis on a federal level. 

So what does this mean for States that have legalized Cannabis? Well, that’s part of the controversy. State Authority VS Federal Authority. Some say that the States will continue to operate as they have under Schedule 1. Others are saying this is going usher in the pharmaceutical era, and state-legal dispensaries will have to register with the Federal Government as Pharmacies… Pharmacies that Felons are not allowed to own in most states, so there goes any Social Equity opportunities for individuals who have already been victims of the “War on Drugs.

I’ve seen too many people wrongly assuming that Schedule 3 equals some kind of federal legalization.


They can still take away your freedom, and lock you in a cage, for a plant. 

The Government Admitting Cannabis Has Medicinal Value

The DEA describes Schedule 1 drugs as: “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This definition has had the Cannabis community aggravated for years, because we all know the medicinal or therapeutic value to this amazing plant. This proposal has many people saying that the move from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 is the Government finally admitting that Cannabis has some medicinal value.

But let’s be real… The Government technically did this a long time ago. And Cannabis has still remained criminalized, and under Schedule 1 on the CSA. In 2003, the US Patent Office awarded Patent 6,630,507 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This patent states in part:

“This new found property makes cannabinoids (such as Cannabidiol) useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”

That is just one of many patents held by our Government regarding Cannabis or Cannabinoids having medicinal value. So this is NOT the first time the US Government has admitted that Cannabis has medicinal value. They own a few different patents, dating back years, saying it does.

Taxes: Goodbye To 280e?

Another aspect that people are talking about? What effect this will have on 280e for Cannabis professionals. Let’s talk taxes, everyone’s favorite subject, and a particularly sore subject for the Cannabis Industry… 280e in particular. 

280e is a tax code that says “No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted.”

So even though Cannabis businesses are operating in legal States, they are not allowed to claim any normal business deductions on their taxes. Meaning that, under Schedule 3, 280e would no longer apply, and Cannabis businesses would be able to claim deductions just like every other business operating in the US. It’s kind of one of the only positive things I could see maayyyybe actually happening… 

But, with that being said… The idea that the Government would so quickly give up that tax money gives me another reason to doubt this move will actually happen.

Will Anything Actually Happen, Or Is This Just More Pandering For Votes?

Now this may just be my cynicism talking… But even if this WAS a good move, I think any celebration is a bit premature. There are still a few steps this rescheduling has to go through before Cannabis ACTUALLY becomes a Schedule 3 drug under the CSA. 

It still has to be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget. Then there will be a Public Comment Period, where the DEA will “consider” public comments made about the move. After that, an Administrative Judge will review the proposal, and THEN will the DEA publish its final decision. 

Sounds to me like there is a lot of time left for this proposal to be shot down. 

I will, quite frankly, be shocked if this actually happens.

And I can’t help but think of the last big election year, when the current administration gained traction with some of the Cannabis community with speeches about how people still being incarcerated for Cannabis was unjust… And how they were going to fix it. Which, to be blunt, was a hard sell to those of us who have kept track of their records for locking people up in prison for many years, some for life, over simple possession of Cannabis. 

If the Government wanted to follow through with what it has told the Cannabis community in the past, they would have taken Cannabis OFF the CSA a long, long time ago. But they haven’t. They would have Federally decriminalized Cannabis. But they haven’t. They would have actually freed human beings from prison. But they haven’t. 

So will this move actually happen?? I honestly do not know.

I guess we will see… But to be blunt, I’m not that optimistic. And either way, it will be OUR responsibility to continue to speak the truth about Cannabis. That it’s a renewable, annual crop, that can be used for textiles, construction, fuel, energy, cleaning the soil, and YES, medicinal or therapeutic purposes. I’ve said it a million times… Cannabis could literally save the world. 

But I fear this move is just another attempt to pander for votes.

If you can’t tell, I am not really one of the people saying this proposed move from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 is a “huge step” for the Cannabis Community. I’m leaning more towards the “this is just some more BS” side of the argument. Legalization has already been such a cluster-f**k under Schedule 1… I’m afraid any move other than all out descheduling Cannabis will only muck things up worse. And I can’t ignore the actions, or the lies, of multiple politicians, both present and past. It’s VERY difficult for me to allow myself to believe that things will change…

That the Government suddenly cares about the Cannabis community, and for the plant itself.

If they did, this would be a move to DESCHEDULE Cannabis. PERIOD.

Regardless, I will continue using Cannabis as my daily therapeutic, and advocating for it to be taken OFF the CSA.