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420 with CNW — Marijuana Advocates See Rescheduling as Tool to Enact Reforms in Prohibitionist States

The anticipated reclassification of cannabis by the federal government to a less-dangerous category may not have an immediate effect on states where cannabis use for either recreational or medical purposes is still illegal. Nonetheless, cannabis legalization proponents see the federal shift as potentially influencing state policymakers who have been hesitant about endorsing cannabis.

Matthew Schweich, head of the Marijuana Policy Project, a prolegalization advocacy group, often encounters state legislators who express potential support but are reluctant due to federal illegality. While reclassification wouldn’t legalize cannabis outright, Schweich believes it could alleviate some concerns among state legislators, potentially making them more inclined to support legalization efforts.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s proposal aims to move marijuana from Schedule I to III of the Controlled Substances Act. This shift would entail less-stringent regulation, though the process may not conclude until after the upcoming presidential election. In the interim, the proposed change could provide new arguments for proponents of ballot initiatives seeking cannabis legalization. Florida is set to vote on a constitutional change for recreational marijuana in November 2024. Similar votes are anticipated in South Dakota and Nebraska, where efforts are underway to legalize recreational cannabis and permit private companies to cultivate and distribute it.

Moreover, former police officer Mark Friese, now a criminal defense lawyer in North Dakota, is in favor of a program to legalize cannabis in the state. In his opinion, those efforts may greatly benefit from the federal reclassification.

However, not everyone is convinced of the impact of reclassification. Jackee Winters, leading a group in Idaho advocating for medical cannabis legalization, finds it challenging to gather support due to fear of legal repercussions.

The potential federal change may have a limited effect in states where marijuana is already legal for recreational or medical use. Still, advocates hope it could sway opinions in states with more restrictive laws or outright bans on cannabis.

In Georgia, although low-THC marijuana products have been allowed since 2015 for specific medical conditions, purchasing them legally only became possible last year. A federal reclassification could ease restrictions, allowing pharmacists to handle cannabis products much as they do any other prescription medication.

Meanwhile, in states such as Tennessee where elected officials are hesitant to support marijuana legislation, a federal reclassification could spark conversations. However, some, such as Senate Speaker Randy McNally, remain cautious, noting that many issues would persist even if marijuana were downgraded to Schedule III.

Kansas faced a similar scenario where attempts to legalize medical cannabis met strong opposition, particularly from law enforcement officials concerned about potential ramifications.

In Texas, limited access to low-THC marijuana products is allowed by law, but efforts to expand access have faced criticism. Similarly, in Wyoming, past efforts to decriminalize cannabis or legalize medical use have not gained traction.

Despite these challenges, there’s optimism among advocates that federal reclassification could ease resistance and encourage more legislators to seriously consider legalization. Apollo Pazell, who has been involved in previous legalization efforts, believes that resistance will diminish over time.

Existing cannabis companies such as SNDL Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) will probably wait for the reclassification process to be completed so that they can assess how they can realign their strategic direction in light of the evolving landscape at the federal level.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of an article each business day at 4:20 p.m. Eastern – a tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. The concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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