Official Statement of Oaksterdam University Regarding Cannabis Rescheduling

Today’s announcement confirming the DEA’s recommendation to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III is undoubtedly the most significant step in ending the nation’s failed cannabis policy since cannabis advocacy began in the 1960s. We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for issuing the directive and pushing for sensible policies to support an industry the federal government has long underserved. While this announcement is a monumental step in the right direction, acknowledging the truth, science, criminal ramifications, history of marijuana prohibition, and the reality of the safety of the plant requires nothing less than de-scheduling.

Oaksterdam University was born of the legacy of the original cannabis advocacy movement. Many of our founders and faculty supported or contributed to the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, the first medical cannabis law in the country. We at Oaksterdam played a pivotal role in launching the legalization era when our founder, Richard Lee, sponsored California’s Proposition 19 in 2010, the nation’s first state-level adult use legalization initiative. It is thanks to the hard work of our founders, faculty, and alumni that today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a federal agency born and shaped on the lies and misguided Prohibition policies, is acknowledging the medicinal uses of cannabis. (Click here to download a free copy of DEA report: Legal Consequences of Rescheduling Marijuana)

Harry Anslinger, the first chief commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), which would later become the DEA, led the charge toward the modern War on Drugs through outright lies, division, and racism. The foundation of these lies has continued to shape drug policy through the present day, from mandatory minimum sentencing, asset forfeiture, violent SWAT raids, loss of housing, education, opportunity, child custody, and, in some cases, access to medical care. We cannot lose sight of the significance of the DEA acknowledging this was wrong.

A move to Schedule III at least acknowledges that cannabis is as safe as Marinol, a synthetic version of THC that has been a Schedule III drug since 1999. This move expands medicinal access to patients in states that still do not have licensed and regulated medical access and allows for clinical trials and incorporation into care plans nationwide. We will not mince words; this is incredible progress. However, a move to Schedule III is not consistent with how we regulate other herbs with therapeutic uses and or enforce substances not used medicinally, such as alcohol or tobacco, which the ATF regulates.

“It is historic for the DEA to officially recognize the medical use of cannabis, but it’s the same old same old for the cannabis industry,” says Lauren Vazquez, a California attorney who works with cannabis businesses and the chair of Oaksterdam’s Legal Department. “Banking, taxes, trademarks, and other protections will all be limited to legal pharmaceutical companies. State-licensed cannabis stores will remain illegal.”

There is much speculation about how a move to Schedule III will play out practically, and Oaksterdam will be at the forefront of these conversations. Sign up for our newsletter to get notified as we schedule informative webinars breaking down how this will affect individuals and businesses. Education continues to be the most critical factor in organizing advocates to keep working towards de-scheduling cannabis and striving for better knowledge.

Education will remain the most critical factor as we collectively work toward equity, health, and economic fairness. The cannabis industry deserves the same rights and protections as any other legal and legitimate industry operating in the United States. We look forward to realizing this mission with the federal government’s support.

Join our webinar, Cannabis Rescheduling: Navigating DEA’s Shift and Industry Implications, with Attorneys Lauren Vázquez, Omar Figueroa, and Luke Zimmerman, Moderated by Dale Sky Jones. Thursday, May 9, 2024 @ 3:00 PM PT / 6:00 PM PT

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