While 29 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam have all legalized marijuana in some shape or form, federal Schedule One status for the plant has created numerous hurdles. Among those hurdles are legal issues for businesses, researchers, doctors, and patients.
Sen. Kenny Yuko, a Richmond Heights, Ohio Democrat, has introduced a resolution asking the federal government to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous controlled substance, which would considerably ease some of the struggles created by current federal policy towards the plant.
Despite the numerous accepted medical benefits of cannabis, the federal government still classifies it alongside heroin and ecstasy as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This has meant numerous hurdles and hoops researchers have to jump through in order to study the plant that is enjoying widespread and legal medical use in more than half of the United States. This means that while the plant is legally being used as medication by over 1.2 million Americans (as of 2016), federal stubbornness prevents us from studying why, how, and any potential issues that could arise from that use.
The Schedule I status has also resulted in financial difficulties for businesses, who have reported widely varying issues utilizing typical banking, whether that’s opening an account or applying for a loan.
Ohio has legalized medical marijuana for people with 21 qualifying conditions, which state officials are still setting up and has to be operational no later than September 2018. However, Ohio has run into numerous issues trying to get the law into effect. Initially, attorneys weren’t able to advise clients on the state law. State colleges were the only entities allowed to test medical marijuana products at first, but they declined to do so out of fear of risking federal funding. Numerous communities have also banned cannabis businesses in the state due to the safety concern of large amounts of cash going through unbanked businesses.
“The families of sick children who have used this product know how important it is,” Senator Yuko said. “But researchers are afraid to study cannabis, and legal businesses are forced to remain cash-only, because the government still views it as dangerous.” Congress doesn’t have to act on resolutions like this one, but they are a way to send a message to Washington. Though the resolution doesn’t say what Schedule they’d like to see cannabis placed in, some members of Congress have recommended both Schedule II, reserved for prescription-only opiates like oxycodone and other prescribed narcotics, or Schedule III, which includes Tylenol with codeine, testosterone, and Marinol, a synthetic cannabinoid made to mimic THC.