July 18, 2016

Rescheduling Pot: Bad For the Nation’s Cannabis Industry, Good For The State of Illinois?

July 18, 2016

This article is written by Bob Morgan, health care Special Counsel at law firm Much Shelist. For more articles from Bob Morgan, visit www.muchshelist.com/attorney/bob-morgan.

By now you have all heard the rumors that the federal government may change cannabis from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

This would be the biggest thing to happen to Cannabis since Nixon decided he wanted a statement on marijuana that “just tears the ass out of them” 45 years ago.

There are hundreds of questions that will need to be answered if that decision occurs, as alluded to in this April DEA letter to the US Senate. But let’s focus on one question that could dramatically impact the Illinois medical cannabis program – what if cannabis can legally be transported across state lines?

Interstate commerce (or the lack thereof) is a big reason why the cannabis industry varies so wildly from one state to another.  It is the reason why the origin of the first cannabis crop is such a thorny question.  It is the reason why marijuana grown in Oregon is different from what is grown in Washington or Colorado.  It is one reason why banking is so complicated – I have seen a number of client banking transactions delayed or cancelled when attempting to transfer finances from a bank in one state to a bank in another.

With a change that allows limited cannabis interstate transport, Illinois stands to gain.  Right now we are on a proverbial island – surrounded by states that prohibit cannabis production (with the exception of a very limited Missouri program).  If cannabis can be shipped across the country, Illinois becomes a hub for the cannabis industry.  Our market is bigger than Minnesota, fully operational long before Ohio or Pennsylvania, and significantly more regulated and large-scale than any single Michigan grower.  Not unlike the role Chicago played as a relay point for the nation’s train system 150 years ago, our centralized location could significantly transform our medical cannabis program as we know it.

Our growers already have facilities large enough to scale up to supply the Midwest (Iowa already teased that they would love to buy our medical cannabis.  The Illinois General Assembly could (believe it or not) pass legislation in November or December to allow out-of-state sales.  We are a more logical option for shipping to the Northeast, compared to California or other Western states.  We have all the necessary medical centers and ongoing research.  Our cultivation centers will be obvious targets for large investors and even the dreaded Big Pharma.

There are many reasons why Schedule II threatens to hurt the cannabis industry as we know it – but the change could bring many positive changes to the Land of Lincoln.

For more articles from Bob Morgan, visit www.muchshelist.com/attorney/bob-morgan


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