Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest member-based medical cannabis advocacy organization, held a webinar discussing the recent recommendation made by the Department of Health and Human Services to reschedule cannabis.
Hosted by founder Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) held an hour-long webinar on September 6th, 2023 discussing the impacts of the recent recommendation made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reschedule cannabis (1), and explained what it could mean for medical cannabis patients.
Sherer first explained the context surrounding the leaked letter from the HHS and what it is purported to say. “The findings from the HHS underscore that it is time for congressional action on medical cannabis, that actually this unlocks the door, but there is still going to have to be action to open that door for the change in scheduling of cannabis to do something for patients,” Sherer stated. “But we’re still a long ways from that happening.”
Sherer also explained previous rescheduling petitions throughout the past several decades, the roles of the Department of Justice and Congress in drug scheduling, the steps the Drug Enforcement Agency will now likely take in their own review of cannabis, and the influence of international cannabis policy. She also explained how the creation of a Federal Medical Cannabis Program and an Office of Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoid Control under the HHS could work within cannabis rescheduling.
Based on the definition of a Schedule III drug, “we can assume that [the HHS] came to the conclusion that cannabis has accepted medical use in the United States,” Sherer stated, clarifying that it is not equivalent to FDA approval. Regardless of what happens next, she explained, this will have an impact on the attitudes and stigma around cannabis.
Questions from attendees included addressing federal barriers to patient access, the possibility of pharmacies providing medical cannabis, changes in criminal penalties, new research opportunities, and more.
At the beginning of the presentation, Sherer had cautioned attendees that they may not be excited about the lack of clear and direct answers to all questions at the moment, but she ended the presentation with ways attendees could help ASA continue to advocate for pathways for cannabis medicines.