The Biden’s administration is poised to make the biggest shift in federal drug policy in decades by loosening marijuana restrictions, but the move is prompting blowback from an unlikely constituency: legalization advocates. They argue that moving marijuana to a lower classification would do nothing to address the federal-state divide in marijuana laws, fail to address the impacts of criminalization, disrupt existing state-regulated cannabis markets, lead multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies to dominate the medical cannabis industry and spur a potential federal crackdown, Politico reports. Howard Sklamberg, a former top official at the Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, argues those fears are alarmist and misguided. He doesn’t believe the cannabis industry needs to worry about a crackdown if the drug is moved from Schedule I to III under the Controlled Substances Act, as recommended by the FDA after a review of the scientific evidence.
“If you’re going to launch an enforcement initiative against cannabis, why would you start off with saying, ‘Oh, by the way, it’s less of a risk than we thought,’” Sklamberg said. “You would use your power under Schedule I and go after it.” Sklamberg now a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter, held leadership roles at the FDA from 2010 to 2017, including stints overseeing compliance and enforcement operations. Sklamberg served as the FDA’s top official on a variety of issues, including cannabis. Support for marijuana legalization cracked 70 percent in November for the first time since Gallup started asking the question in 1969. The results of the poll were announced the day after Ohio voters made the Buckeye state the 24th in the nation to legalize recreational weed. Some 38 states regulate medical marijuana sales.