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BALTIMORE — It’s been nearly a year since Connor Whelton’s ReLeaf dispensary in Mount Vernon was first allowed to sell adult-use marijuana.

“It’s been steady; it’s been great for the state and people alike,” Whelton told WMAR.

The Maryland state government began to permit it last July, and now a federal move could mean another kind of relief—on taxes, banking, and a whole lot more.

“Realistically, for customers and patients alike, you might see the ability to use credit cards and other forms of payments that were once cut off before because it was federally illegal. You might see small businesses like ourselves have access to capital for expansion,” Whelton described.

As a Schedule I, marijuana is federally viewed in the realm of drugs like heroin and LSD. But after a move by the Biden administration this month, it could be moved into Schedule III, with the likes of anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Cannabis sales in Maryland have boomed since recreational use for adults became legal; this year alone, the state’s year-to-date earnings are north of $365 million.

Whelton told WMAR a federal rescheduling could mean a shot in the arm for businesses large and small.

“It potentially is changing my life and the lives of everybody that’s involved in this,” he said. “This could be the difference between just getting by and being able to suffice their taxes and actually making money.”

But, as Whelton explained, there is still much unknown about how the change would work in practice, amid the industry’s complex web of commerce and law.

“Technically, schedule threes are regulated and governed by the FDA. Which means a drug like cannabis, if it’s a Schedule II, technically should go through a pharmacy and require a prescription. That’s not how it goes in states, so what is essentially the path of least resistance would be leaving it up to the states to regulate themselves and not having any interstate commerce to begin. But again, another one of those unknowns we’re yet to see how this would shake out,” said Whelton.

In any case, Whelton hopes the potential schedule change means folks also change the way they view marijuana itself.

“It’s not a fringe thing anymore. You’re seeing it supported by science and the federal government as well as the state government moving forward,” Whelton added.

There still has to be a formal process before the drug can be rescheduled, and that could take months or longer.

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