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Biden is Rescheduling Marijuana. What Does That Mean?

Making History

In a historic move, President Joe Biden announced plans to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. This long-awaited policy shift could have major implications for medical cannabis patients across the country, including those in Pennsylvania. Here's what you need to know.

What Does Rescheduling Marijuana Mean?

Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, alongside drugs like heroin. This classification implies that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical use. Rescheduling to Schedule III acknowledges marijuana’s medical benefits and recognizes it as less dangerous, comparable to substances like anabolic steroids and ketamine.

Key Implications of Rescheduling

Medical Benefits and Research

The rescheduling reflects the growing body of evidence supporting marijuana’s medical applications. This change aligns federal policy with the reality that millions of patients and healthcare providers have long recognized. With marijuana classified as a schedule III drug, researchers will find it easier to conduct studies on its benefits and risks. This could lead to a wealth of new medical discoveries and treatments.

Taxation and Business Impacts

Currently, under IRS Code Section 280E, businesses cannot deduct expenses related to marijuana sales. Reclassification to Schedule III would remove this restriction, providing significant tax relief to legal cannabis businesses. By easing the tax burden and reducing legal ambiguities, the rescheduling could help the legal cannabis market thrive, potentially further decreasing the black market’s influence. 

Impacts on Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Program

Rescheduling could ease restrictions around research into medical marijuana and development of cannabis-based medicines. With reduced federal barriers, more companies may enter the Pennsylvania medical cannabis market, improving access and driving down costs for patients. Cannabis products currently prohibited in PA (such as edibles) could potentially become available with different federal scheduling.

Patient & Caregiver Benefits

Patients can expect reduced stigma around using a Schedule III medical substance versus the previous Schedule I status. Increased insurance coverage for medical marijuana may become a possibility down the road. Interstate travel with medical cannabis could also become less risky. 

Staying On Top of Regulatory Changes As a Medical Marijuana Patient

Amidst the shifting landscape of cannabis regulations, it’s crucial for medical cannabis patients to stay proactive in managing their access to treatment. Keep an eye on the expiration date on your MMJ card! In order to avoid any lapses in your certification, here’s a straightforward guide to ensuring your continued access to medical cannabis each year: How To Renew

  1. Pay or Waive State Fee: Visit the Department of Health’s Patient Portal. You can pay (or waive, if you receive government benefits) the $50 fee underneath the Make Payment tab. It is due every 365 days. If it reads, ‘No fee is due at this time,’ you do not need to pay/waive the fee until it is due. You can pay/waive the fee 60 days before its due date. It may not always match up with the expiration date on your current card!

  2. Schedule a Consultation Call: Schedule a brief, 5-minute consultation with one of our DOH approved physicians. Regular check-ins with your physician are essential to ensure your medical cannabis treatment is still effective for you.

  3. Receive your Renewed Card: After completing the above steps, expect to receive your renewed medical cannabis card within 21 days. In our experience, many patients receive their cards much sooner, often within 3-5 days. 

With your renewed card in hand, you can have peace of mind knowing your access to medicine remains uninterrupted. 

Next Steps & Timelines

The rescheduling process will take many months to be formalized by federal agencies. Congress may also take legislative action to reschedule marijuana or remove it entirely from the Controlled Substances Act. Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program rules will eventually need to adapt to any new federal marijuana policies. 

President Biden's move to reschedule marijuana is a monumental step for Americans who rely on medical cannabis. While the impacts in Pennsylvania may not be immediately apparent, this policy shift lays the groundwork for increased access, research, and acceptance of medical marijuana in the years to come. 

As always, our team at JustMyDoc is here to support Pennsylvania's medical cannabis community through any regulatory changes ahead. We'll continue monitoring this developing situation and provide updates as they become available. 

Interested in learning the 4 steps it takes to obtain your first Pennsylvania medical marijuana card? Click here.

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