I read that weed might be removed from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Is that bad for the Oregon scene?

NOT IN MY OPINION, but people disagree. The argument is that if weed were moved to Schedule II or III, big pharma would roll in and crush the little guys (that is, everyone who sells weed in the legit or gray market). But I think the little guys would be fine, just like today.

It is true that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it will consider rescheduling marijuana sometime this year. The agency even disclosed that it is sitting on a specific recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this sexy topic, although the DEA won't disclose what that recommendation is. I cannot give you a good reason for that and I doubt the DEA could either.

A few seemingly credible sources report that weed will be shuttled from Schedule I to Schedule II as soon as August. As per most federal policy when it comes to weed, that would be dumb. Barriers to research for Schedule II drugs are slightly lower, but the move would seat marijuana in the same restrictive category as opium, morphine, and cocaine. Those are all drugs the DEA deems to have "a high potential for abuse." The DEA must not believe this is true with booze or tobacco, substances left to state regulation.

If pot were rescheduled, FDA-approved cannabis-based drugs may become available for prescription via medical doctors. That sounds like a big deal, but it's already happening somewhat anyway. Approved drugs like Epidiolex, Sativex, and Marinol are all derived from THC or synthetic versions. People who use weed casually or in a certain way for a certain condition seem unlikely to seek out a pharmaceutical scrip for something they can buy without one.

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Ultimately, the legal authority for Oregon's pot programs is unrelated to the classification of marijuana on the controlled substances ladder. The federal CSA outlaws the manufacture, distribution, and sale of cannabis whether classified as Schedule I or II (or elsewhere) under the act. And if the federal government will tolerate a Schedule I substance being sold here and elsewhere in the face of federal prohibition, it would also tolerate the states politely ignoring a Schedule II restriction.

Public support for ending prohibition now polls over 60 percent nationally, and the days of comprehensive and meaningful CSA enforcement have passed. Even if certain cannabis drugs are developed by big pharma and dispensed at Rite Aid, your neighborhood shop will run on its parallel track, selling flower, edibles, topicals, extracts, and concentrates—just like today. A dual-track system for weed would be strange, but no stranger than our present system.