Influencing Our Future: A Webinar on Cannabis Rescheduling from the S3 Collective

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To coordinate efforts for the rescheduling road ahead, the S3 Collective held a webinar for anyone with a stake in federal cannabis regulations.

As a call to action for individuals and groups across the cannabis industry, the nonprofit S3 Collective hosted the webinar, “Rescheduling Cannabis: A Scientific Imperative,” on January 30, 2024. As David Vaillencourt, Board Chair and Co-Founder of the S3 Collective, explained, the S3 Collective was created to fulfill the need for a science-based organization to connect cannabis research and data with state and federal regulations in order to improve product safety and policy. This hour-long webinar was moderated by Alena Rodriguez, Co-Founder and Technical Director of the S3 Collective. The three panelists participating in the discussion were Shane Pennington, Partner, Litigation Department, Porter Wright Morris and Arthur LLP; Andrew Kline, Firmwide Co-Chair, Cannabis Industry Group, Perkins Coie LLP; and Jahan Marcu, PhD, Molecular Pharmacologist and Cannabis Expert, Marcu Enterprises.

The webinar aimed to cover several discussion points: an explanation of the proposed scheduling, how and why to contribute to the federal framework of cannabis regulations, and the S3 Collective's anticipated approach, with the overall goal of creating a science-based submission to the DEA’s public comment period.

The panelists began by explaining their connections to S3 Collective and how they’ve previously contributed to rescheduling research, reform, and public policy efforts.


Shane Pennington answered the first question of the webinar, which addressed the historical nature of the current push for cannabis rescheduling. He explained how various unprecedented events, such as the recent recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), present a unique opportunity to overcome the long held barriers that have “locked” cannabis in Schedule 1.

Next, Andrew Kline described the process for DEA rescheduling and where stakeholder engagement would have the most impact. Assuming there will be a public comment period after the DEA issues a draft rule, he explained, the public will have 60 days to submit comments, which is where support is needed. He also noted a few possibilities to keep in mind as well, such as requesting an administrative law judge hearing.

Jahan Marcu addressed the newer research and sources used in the HHS recommendation, the standards for misuse potential, and how federal agencies are considering safety. He emphasized that it is most important to look at the method of data collecting and analysis when making policies and that it is now possible to compare substances when looking at potential for abuse. With the 300% increase in cannabis research activity since the last time the rescheduling question surfaced, it is also crucial to look at how data is collected when analyzing clinical reviews.

Finally, David Vaillencourt and the three panelists gave their viewpoints on the S3 Collective's plan to approach the rescheduling. “We’re getting science on the record,” David stated, and explained what that is necessary in this unique situation. They summarized that the S3 Collective is creating a unified, evidence-based, and informative response, bringing together expertise from various perspectives to combat misinformation and to give the DEA the evidence they need to protect public health. The combined experiences and qualifications in the collective in conjunction with support from those who join their efforts, they explained, can provide the best strategic advantage in accomplishing this.

At the end of the webinar, the panel answered several questions submitted from attendees. They covered topics such as the option of generating a comprehensive public survey on cannabis, the chances of the DEA opting for Schedule 2 instead, and how the cannabinoid and hemp markets will be impacted.

Find more information about the S3 Collective efforts here.