Is This Good for Arizona? Feds Want to Reclassify Marijuana
Marijuana has had a controversial history in America. Would you believe American settlers were not only asked to grow hemp, they were required to?
It’s a common misconception that hemp and marijuana are two different plant species. Scientifically, they're the same plant. The difference is how the plant is used.
Hemp was grown to produce fiber. The fiber was used to make clothing, paper, and other materials. Hemp first came to our shores with the Puritans in Colonial America and planted it almost immediately.
While science doesn’t differentiate between “hemp” and “marijuana,” the law does.
Legalizing Marijuana in Arizona
In the early 1900s, anti-cannabis propaganda spread. Myths around cannabis perpetuated stereotypes. By the 1930s, the propaganda eventually led to making cannabis illegal.
Medicinal marijuana was legalized in Arizona in 2010. In November of 2020, Arizona voters passed Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Act. Prop 207 legalized the possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis. The first state-licensed sales began in January of 2021.
Heavy Taxes on Marijuana Dispensaries in Arizona
Since then, heavily regulated and heavily taxed marijuana dispensaries have opened around the state.
The current tax code forbids dispensaries from deducting business expenses the way other businesses do. This is because cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act Schedule list.
The Schedule I classification puts marijuana in the same category as LSD, heroin, and MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Schedule I drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse but no currently accepted medical use.
How Reclassifying Marijuana as a Schedule III Drug Would Affect Arizona Dispensaries
Recreational marijuana use is still illegal on a federal level. Wikipedia explains,
In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA).
Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested marijuana be reclassified by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
HHS is asking that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That would put cannabis into the same category as ketamine and anabolic steroids, drugs with less potential for abuse.
If the approval is granted, pot dispensaries in Arizona could see some important changes, particularly in the way they're taxed. Interstate commerce and research would also be affected.
Dispensaries could use the potential tax savings to invest in their businesses and employees.
Not everyone is happy with the potential change. Anti-legalization groups believe the DHS request is politically motivated, socially dangerous, and an attempt for dispensaries and cannabis advocates to legitimize marijuana use.
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