Potential Game-Changing Federal Ruling on Marijuana Classification Coming Within Weeks

This is potentially great news for the millions of Americans who smoke pot and use cannabis oil products and the hundreds or thousands of new marijuana dispensaries across several states. The DEA may soon be rescheduling marijuana:

In a memo to lawmakers this week, the DEA announced plans to decide “in the first half of 2016” whether or not it will reschedule marijuana, according to The Washington Post. Cannabis is now listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug, a categorization it shares with other drugs, such as heroin and LSD, which the U.S. government defines as “the most dangerous drugs” that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Of course, it is nothing short of absurd that it is in the same category with heroin, which caused more than 11,000 deaths last year in the United States.

Aside from potentially impacting criminal justice reforms, it would bring about the necessary change to allow banks to do business with the growing number of marijuana-related businesses. Right now, those businesses are cash-only because it is illegal for them to put their money in banks:

Rescheduling could also have a major financial effect on the legal marijuana industry, which some estimates suggest will hit $6.7 billion in sales this year while expanding to nearly $22 billion by 2020. While more and more states have voted to legalize marijuana in some form over the past several years, the drug remains very much illegal on the federal level—an inconvenient fact for a rapidly expanding industry that has led to a range of issues for marijuana-related businesses, from a lack of banking options to federal tax issues.

The enormous amounts of cash have essentially created small, private military-like forces in places like Colorado that are hired to move those piles of money around. More from a USA Today article on the security problems associated with that much free-flowing cash:

Heading through the warehouse where workers tend young marijuana plants, Karr greets a young woman, and the two empty a safe of tens of thousands of dollars in cash neatly packed in plastic envelopes. Like every room in this combined marijuana store and grow house, the smell of pot hangs heavy in the air. Karr double-checks the ledger, locks his satchel and hustles outside, where former cop Phil Baca waits at the wheel of the armored car.

Karr opens the truck's safe, pitches the satchel inside and climbs back into the passenger seat, an AR-15 rifle stashed behind him. It's a scene that plays out six times in three hours. Their take for the day: somewhere close to $100,000 in cash.

"For the first three months, people were just keeping the money everywhere—in the walls, in mattresses, at home," says Sean Campbell, CEO of Blue Line Protection Group, which provides marijuana security services, including Karr, Baca and the armored car. "And banks don't even want to deal with it. You have a quarter-of-a-million dollars in cash show up all at once. The counting time alone is going to take an hour.”

That is one crew working a three-hour window. Imagine how many such crews are armed and roaming through the streets every single day. Rescheduling marijuana isn’t only the ethical thing to do for consumers and medical marijuana researchers, it’s the safest thing to do for businesses in the states where marijuana has been legalized and is flying out the door. It’s time for the cash-only signs to come down. 

Now we wait to see if the DEA agrees. 


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