The recent marijuana recommendation by a prominent US health agency is being celebrated as an initial stride towards potentially relaxing regulations surrounding the use of cannabis.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a marijuana policy recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a move that Senate leaders are applauding as the initial stage in a process aimed at loosening federal restrictions on cannabis.
In Washington, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has submitted a marijuana policy recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a development that Senate leaders celebrated on Wednesday as an inaugural move towards relaxing federal restrictions on cannabis.
On the platform now known as X, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Wednesday that the agency had heeded President Joe Biden’s request “to furnish a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA.”
“We’ve strived to ensure a prompt completion and sharing of a scientific evaluation,” he elaborated.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement indicating that HHS had recommended reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III controlled substance.
“HHS has taken the appropriate action,” remarked Schumer, a Democrat from New York. “Now, it is imperative for the DEA to follow through with this crucial step to significantly mitigate the harm inflicted by stringent marijuana laws.”
Rescheduling the drug could potentially lead to a reduction or even the elimination of criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession. Presently, marijuana shares its Schedule I classification with substances like heroin and LSD.
As per the DEA, Schedule I drugs are characterized by having “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
In contrast, Schedule III drugs are described as having “a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” Currently, this category includes substances such as ketamine and certain anabolic steroids.
President Biden initiated the review in October 2022 while simultaneously pardoning numerous individuals convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, issued a statement advocating for the complete descheduling of marijuana. He also noted, “However, HHS’s recommendation to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule III drug carries significant weight. If ultimately adopted, it would mark a historic milestone for a nation whose cannabis policies have long been disconnected from reality.”
The initial report on the HHS recommendation came from Bloomberg News.
Responding to the Bloomberg report, the nonprofit U.S. Cannabis Council expressed its enthusiasm, stating, “We wholeheartedly embrace today’s announcement… Rescheduling will bring about a wide array of advantages, including sending a message to the criminal justice system that cannabis should be a lower priority and extending a vital economic support to the cannabis industry.”