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Cannabis Rescheduling Takes The Next Steps

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The Biden administration’s marijuana rescheduling takes the next step

The Department of Justice is moving marijuana rescheduling to the next step. The administration has proposed moving the drug from Schedule I, a strict classification including drugs like heroin, to Schedule III, which is more on the level of Tylenol. It also marks the federal government acknowledgement the plants medical benefits. The industry will watch over the next few months as the process of moving it forward grinds ahead.

RELATED: Americans Want It, Some Politicians Prefer a Nanny State

President Joe Biden announced move on his official account on X (formerly known as Twitter.  In a video Biden shared “This is monumental, It’s an important move towards reversing long-standing inequities. … Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also released a video Thursday, hailing the progress. It seems she has progressed in her position over the last 5 years.

Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

A key part of the next step is a 60-day comment period. This will allow any and all parties to provide information, opinion, support or random thoughts. Already a group of GOP Senators want to either slow or stop the process. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has started leading an effort to stall the plan if not outright stop it. They are going against the general public opinion with 85%+ believe it should be legal in some form.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is not 100% on board and there are still hurdles to rescheduling. After the comment person, there could be a review from an administrative judge, which could be a drawn-out process.  The total process can take from 3 months to a year, although it is unlikely the issue will not be resolved before the election.

RELATED: California or New York, Which Has The Biggest Marijuana Mess

Considering the stance of the federal government, Senator Mitch McConnell, and certain other opponents, the road is still going to be a bit bumpy.  The industry, in an awkward growth mood, is in need of the government not to be a hindrance.  But only time will tell.



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BDSA

Consumer Spending Validates Marijuana Rescheduling

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It is a historic move for a country which had prohibition, but consumers are using their wallets to show they support it,

Culture wars have been an American tradition – from the battle over TicTok to the alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. It was said the only thing to come out of the anti-liquor period was it taught good citizens how to break the law.  But in general, if the public wants it, the public will have it, legal or not. The perfect is example is the Pornhub ban in Utah and Texas, which has sent VPN sign ups sky high. And consumer spending validates marijuana rescheduling in a major way.

RELATED: Beer Sales Flatten Thanks To Marijuana

Some politicians and leaders believe in the nanny state option.  Those include a few governors lead by Ron DeSantis, Mitch McConnell, and a few other special interest groups.  But the Biden’s administration’s decision to reschedule cannabis lines up with public opinion. Over 85% believe it should legal in some form, and more importantly, they are putting their money toward what they want.  Leading analyst firm, BDSA, shared the public’s spending habit’s match their thoughts on rescheduling.

Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty Images

Following the tradition, cannabis sales moved higher again this year. Sales on 20 April 2024 sales were $167M, a 33% increase over the previous year.  Trends like California sober are going strong and Gen Z continues to move away from alcohol and move toward marijuana vapes and gummies. Lifestyle habits are starting to adjust slightly away from alcohol and more low alcohol drinks, mocktails, and cannabis eat away at the traditional market.  Alcohol is much rougher on the body, so many are opting for a semi-healthier option.

It is a benefit for fully recreational states as even Missouri makes significant tax income on cannabis. Most governors are on board with rescheduling at it is not only the public’s will, but it helps the state’s coffers and actually helps in other areas. Even New York State, with over 1,500 non tax paying illicit stores making money, made some income.  They have less than 100 licensed dispensaries generating over $175 million.

RELATED: How To Microdose Marijuana

On an interesting sidebar, like holidays, there are some holidays where cannabis use is up. Here are the largest for 2023

  1. 420
  2. Green Wednesday
  3. Black Friday
  4. St Patrick’s Day
  5. Veteran’s Day

In comparison, alcohol’s largest days are:

  1. New Year’s Eve
  2. St. Patrick’s Day
  3. July 4th
  4. Day Before Thanksgiving/ Blackout Wednesday/ Drinksgiving
  5. Black Friday

Let’s see how the next 12 months works for the industry, the government and the public.

 



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Biden

Is Cannabis Good For The Planet

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As Earth Day approaches, is growing cannabis good for the planet – it is a bit of a mixed bag

As Earth Day approaches, everyone is evaluating what is good for the planet.  Plastic, deforestation, fake fur, and Temu’s fast fashion are clearly bad for the planet, but others are more nuanced. Ever since Morton Hilbert started the movement, it has been a time reflect, reassess and hopefully adjust. With marijuana and CBD becoming mainstream and popular over the last few years, is cannabis good for the planet?

While cannabis has clear medical benefits and is considering a treat recreationally, it can take a toil on the earth. There are some benefits. As a fast-growing plant, cannabis can absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it a potentially valuable crop for combating climate change. 

RELATED: Science Explains How Marijuana Inspires Awe 

The plant’s deep roots also help prevent soil erosion, and its flowers attract pollinators like bees, supporting biodiversity. Additionally, cannabis has been shown to be effective at phytoremediation – absorbing and storing heavy metals from contaminated soils, which can help clean up polluted land. These are all related to outdoor grows.

green cannabis plants during daytime

The downside can have environmental risks which need to be managed. Both indoor and outdoor cannabis grows can be highly water-intensive, with estimates of up to 6 gallons of water per plant per day for cultivation. This water usage can deplete local water resources and pollute waterways with fertilizers and pesticides.  While less than crops like citrus fruits, grapes (wine), palmists, apricots, it is still a significant impact.

Indoor grows also have a large energy footprint, with high electricity demands for lighting, HVAC, and other equipment, leading to significant greenhouse gas emissionsCannabis farming can also contribute to deforestation and soil erosion if not done sustainably, such as by clearing land on steep slopes. And the plants themselves emit volatile organic compounds that can negatively impact local air quality.

RELATED: The Most Popular Marijuana Flavors

With the right policies and farming techniques, cannabis could potentially be grown in an environmentally-friendly way which sequesters carbon, supports biodiversity, and remediates contaminated soils. But the industry will need to prioritize sustainability to fully realize the plant’s potential as an eco-friendly crop. Biden’s climate friendly adminstatration can make a difference with legalization. Southern and other farming states with experience in outdoor growing will help. Thoughtful regulation, life cycle assessments, and adoption of precision agriculture technologies will all be important to making cannabis cultivation more sustainable.



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BDSA

Is The Administration Racing To Reschedule By 4/20

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After dragging their feet  for 3 years, the Biden administration seems to be putting some juice to get the DEA to move

Is it opening the door to a new era? It seems the Biden administration has suddenly decided to follow up on their 2020 campaign promises. But does the sense of urgency reflect not only their need to engage younger voters but something else? Is the administration racing to reschedule by 4/20. President Biden brought up federal rescheduling as part of his proclamation declaring April to be “Second Chance Month.”  Followed by his mentioning it in the State of the Union, this should be a signal to the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) to move on the recommendation by other agency and act.

RELATED: California or New York, Which Has The Biggest Marijuana Mess

Having made the promise, for almost the first 3 years of his tenure, Biden barely acknowledged the cannabis industry. This despite sales in the industry continues to grow and now, over 50% of the country has legal access to products.  Those under 40 have an entirely different take on marijuana with Gen Z drifting away from alcohol and moving to weed.  Beer sales have mirrored the societal shift. They have been out of step with the public.

joe biden kamala harris
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Biden is struggling with younger voters. Media like the New York Times has been piling on by highlighting why he is losing and gently making it a much bigger issue.  The campaign is concerned and sees to reengage this demographic. Biden is viewed favorably by only 31% of people ages 18 through 29, much worse than he fares with other age groups, according to a recent Economist/YouGov poll.

The White House begrudgingly started the process of rescheduling last year.  Currently, cannabis classified as having zero medical benefit is lumped into the same category as heroin and LSD.  Neither alcohol or tobacco are boxed into this category despite having zero health benefits and litany of problems the does cause.

Rescheduling would be an immediate benefit to an industry struggling with a host of issues including tough business rules around the classification, chaos in the New York and California market, and a dropping of flower prices.  Some older Senators including James Risch (R-ID) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE) are making a last ditch effort to stop the process.

RELATED: Americans Want It, Some Politicians Prefer a Nanny State

While 4/20 has long been a wink wink nod to marijuana use for those in the know, thanks to the legal sales it is another big media day.  Like the 4th of July or Drinksgiving/Green Wednesday, it is a time where they could get the most engagement with the public.



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