Marijuana recommendation by US health agency hailed as first step to easing weed restrictions

by Joshua Brown
Marijuana Reclassification

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has submitted a recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) concerning marijuana policy, a move that Senate leaders are commending as an initial stride towards alleviating federal constraints on the substance.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra conveyed on the X platform, previously recognized as Twitter, that the agency has responded to President Joe Biden’s request to “offer a scheduling suggestion for marijuana to the DEA.” He further stated, “We’ve diligently pursued a scientific assessment that has been promptly conducted and shared.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, representing New York, voiced his support through a formal statement, announcing that HHS has proposed reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance.

Schumer expressed, “HHS has acted appropriately. The DEA must now proceed with this pivotal measure to significantly mitigate the adverse repercussions stemming from stringent marijuana regulations.”

Revising the categorization of the drug would potentially reduce or eliminate legal sanctions related to possession. Currently designated as a Schedule I drug, marijuana shares this classification with substances like heroin and LSD.

As delineated by the DEA, Schedule I drugs are those that possess “no recognized medical purpose in the United States, a lack of acknowledged safety when supervised medically, and a high potential for misuse.”

In contrast, Schedule III drugs are characterized by having a “potential for misuse lower than substances in Schedules I or II, with abuse possibly leading to moderate or minor physical dependency, or substantial psychological dependency.” This category presently encompasses compounds such as ketamine and specific anabolic steroids.

The request for a review was initiated by President Biden in October 2022, concurrently with his pardon of numerous individuals convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana in accordance with federal law.

Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee representing Oregon, released a statement urging for the complete descheduling of marijuana. Nevertheless, he acknowledged the significance of HHS’s suggestion to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug. He emphasized, “Should HHS’s counsel be ultimately enacted, it will stand as a momentous stride for a nation whose stance on cannabis has been disconnected from reality.”

Initial coverage of the HHS recommendation emerged from Bloomberg News.

Reacting to the Bloomberg report, the non-profit U.S. Cannabis Council conveyed their endorsement by stating, “We wholeheartedly embrace today’s development. … Reclassification will yield an array of wide-reaching advantages, including conveying to the criminal justice system that cannabis merits diminished priority, while concurrently offering a pivotal economic lifeline to the cannabis sector.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Marijuana Rescheduling

What does the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend regarding marijuana policy?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided a recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) concerning marijuana policy. The agency suggests reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance.

What are Schedule I and Schedule III drugs?

Schedule I drugs, including marijuana in its current classification, are substances with no recognized medical purpose in the U.S., a lack of accepted safety under medical supervision, and a high potential for misuse. Schedule III drugs, which would potentially include marijuana post-reclassification, have a lower potential for abuse than substances in Schedules I or II. Abuse of Schedule III drugs may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

How could this recommendation impact marijuana regulations?

Reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III would likely reduce or eliminate criminal penalties associated with possession. This shift signals a step toward easing federal restrictions on the drug and aims to decrease harm resulting from strict marijuana laws.

What prompted the review of marijuana’s classification?

President Joe Biden requested the review in October 2022 as he pardoned individuals convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law. The review aligns with efforts to align cannabis policies with evolving perspectives and scientific insights.

How is the recommendation being received?

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and others have welcomed the HHS recommendation, considering it an essential move toward updating cannabis regulations. The U.S. Cannabis Council also expressed enthusiasm, highlighting potential benefits such as signaling a lower priority for cannabis-related offenses and supporting the cannabis industry economically.

What happens next in this process?

The DEA must now consider the HHS recommendation and decide whether to implement the suggested reclassification. If executed, this change would represent a historic shift in the nation’s approach to marijuana policy.

More about Marijuana Rescheduling

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JournalistGuy August 31, 2023 - 7:32 am

ugh, bout time they’re thinkin’ ’bout changin’ them weed laws. schedulin’ it like heroin? c’mon now, that don’t make sense. good job HHS!

EcoWarrior August 31, 2023 - 10:05 am

’bout time! think of the environmental benefits if they ease up on marijuana laws. less legal pressure, more focus on bigger issues.

CryptoEnthusiast August 31, 2023 - 3:45 pm

not my area, but interestin’ move nonetheless. wonder how this might affect the cannabis industry’s financial side, ya know?

CarManiac August 31, 2023 - 8:29 pm

haha, talk ’bout diverse interests. never thought weed and cars’d be in the same news piece. curious how this might play out though.

PoliticAnalyst August 31, 2023 - 10:10 pm

so prez Biden asked for this? wonder what took ’em so long. if it helps ease the law for those with small possession charges, that’s a win.


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