Friday, July 19, 2024

Will Merrick Garland Help Or Hinder Marijuana Rescheduling

Attorney General Merrick Garland upended the residential real estate industry, so what will he do to the budding cannabis market.

In the last election, then candidate Biden promised to help the cannabis industry.  It took a while and only as he runs for reelection has the administration made any significant progress.  Just late month, the DEA started the feedback process to reschedule marijuana. It would be a boon to the struggling industry, a benefit to patients, and a big help to veterans with PTSD.  But, as the US Attorney General, will Merrick Garland help or hinder marijuana rescheduling?

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Garland has a reputation for collegiality and meticulous legal reasoning. He has spent most of time in courts deals with regulatory issues which gives him a strong base to understand how rules and regulations can have a powerful impact on day to day business. He is highly circumspect and grasps each how rulings can make significant changes. Garland has the power to reschedule marijuana, and, considering the agencies recommending it be done, it would be unprecedented for him not to.

Garland’s ruling on residential real estate upended the industry.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) falls directly under Garland…and they pushed back on Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation to reschedule. In its decision, HHS acknowledged cannabis has medical benefits.  It also noted the risks to the public health posed by marijuana are low compared to other drugs of abuse,” such as heroin (Schedule I), cocaine (Schedule II), benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax (Schedule IV), and alcohol (unscheduled). Although “abuse of marijuana produces clear evidence of harmful consequences, including substance use disorder,” HHS said, they are “less common and less harmful” than the negative consequences associated with other drugs. It concluded that “the vast majority of individuals who use marijuana are doing so in a manner that does not lead to dangerous outcomes to themselves or others.

But the DEA was reluctant and Garland used his authority to move the process forward. In a wonky move, The proposed rule was posted by the DEA, and it has a DEA docket number, but it is signed by Garland rather than DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.  This clearly shows the Attorney General is having a larger interest than leaving it to just the DEA.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently released most major crimes are on the decline in 2024, which follows the trend from 2023. On of the reason used to stop marijuana legalization is the potential increase in crime, which the FBI proven isn’t true. In addition, the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries are being supportive of the change.

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As a wonk, Garland seems to understand modern marijuana is on a pathway of acceptance.  While not a cheerleader, he seems in respect the recommendations, the science and the process.


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