As we noted earlier this month, countless news outlets from all around the country reported in late August that US health officials hinted at a reclassification of cannabis to Schedule 3 from its current Schedule 1 status alongside heroin.
Bloomberg, which cooked and served the burger, noted with glee how “cannabis industry stocks respond[ed] with double-digit jumps.” As I guessed two weeks ago (and turned out to be right about), nothing substantial happened on the political front, and indeed the only impact was in the stock market, where cannabis companies enjoyed a reported 20% boost from the hype. That’s why the story was served up so shamelessly by big media ops, no different from their cheering on high monthly sales numbers.
But as we now know for sure thanks to the Freedom Of Information Act and some intrepid reporting, the news was total bullshit. It’s unlikely that most outlets which screamed the aggregated headline from the rooftops for clicks will issue retractions, but we all owe top cannabis reporter Kyle Jaeger a token of appreciation for untangling the yarn. I seriously encourage anyone who wants to stay informed about the road to rescheduling to follow his work at Marijuana Moment, and to ignore those who emerge from the woodwork to deposit their two cents on the issue. Here’s a taste from “DEA Head Misspoke About Biden ‘Letter’ Directing Marijuana Scheduling Review, Justice Department Says” …
Prior to the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) making a cannabis rescheduling recommendation last month, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing in late July that the president “had sent a letter” to the secretary of HHS and the attorney general “to ask for the scheduling—descheduling process to begin.”
The assertion raised some eyebrows, as the administrative mechanisms behind the ongoing scheduling review are not widely understood. Following the July hearing, attorney Matt Zorn filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with DOJ and HHS, seeking a copy of the letter Milgram referenced.
HHS responded last month, saying it conducted a search and determined that “there are no records responsive to your request.” Then, last week, the Justice Department sent another reply to Zorn stating that it had consulted with DEA, which in turn explained that the administrator was “referencing the president’s statement of October 6, 2022.”
In other words, the replies say there never was a separate “letter” from Biden to DOJ and HHS. Rather, Milgram was apparently referencing the public statement from the president announcing the scheduling review directive, as well as a mass pardon for people who committed federal marijuana possession offenses.
Once again, there’s not much left for me to add to this national story, other than that all the chatter around rescheduling shows just how little attention cannabis industry people—from the top of the executive chain to the retail store floor—are paying to changes and legislation in their local markets. Sure, rescheduling is a common issue that ties all businesses and consumers together, but it’s also basically the silliest subject to opine on, since it’s basically all speculation at this juncture. And speculation, as we saw in this case, often turns out to be wrong.