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What Would Schedule 2 Mean?

Posted by Micah Tapman on Jul 5, 2016 12:34:31 PM
Micah Tapman
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Over the last few weeks I've fielded the question "what would schedule 2 mean?" at least a dozen times. And the question isn't just coming from newcomers but from experienced investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer.

However, it's fair to say that the likely result of the DEA rescheduling marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 (or 3) is a complete renegotiation of both the explicit and implied contracts between the federal government and the state governments with legal cannabis programs. The current arrangements were developed over the course of 20 years, since California thumbed it's nose at the federal prohibition of marijuana, and it is a relatively well-developed framework, albeit idiosyncratic, arbitrary, and hypocritical.

We know, for example, that the DOJ is unlikely to prosecute legal cannabis businesses provided they abide by the Cole Memorandum. We also know that the FDA isn't going to weigh in on the medical uses for cannabis until the DEA reschedules it. And we know that states like Colorado have effectively and efficiently created billion-dollar markets by legalizing the adult-use of marijuana.

A re-negotiation of those concepts could lead to some catastrophic changes for the cannabis industry but I'm not one of the doomsday prophets. I think it's more likely those negotiations will result in some minor changes and an overall improvement in the regulatory structure. For example, banking might take a turn for the positive with easier access to banking resources and lower fees for cannabis companies.

As a marijuana investor I spend a lot of time assessing the various risks from legal to financial to cultural. Schedule 2 is a risk but I don't think it's an insurmountable risk. My advice to investors: look for strong management teams with the mental agility to adapt to changing regulations and keep an eye on the work being done by DPA, MPP, and the NCIA. Cannabis investing isn't for the faint of heart and this is one of the reasons why.

Topics: Legal