Biden recommends loosening federal restrictions on marijuana
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Photo Credit: Richard T
HHS issued its recommendation in August 2023 that marijuana should be moved from the most prohibitive level on the Controlled Substances Act (Schedule I) to a middle category (Schedule III). Schedule III drugs — which include ketamine and testosterone — have “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” It’s now up to the Drug Enforcement Administration to make a final determination about the proper classification of cannabis, with a decision expected sometime in 2024.
A move to Schedule III would be the biggest change in U.S. drug policy in more than half a century. It would make marijuana much easier for researchers to study — which could give politicians and regulators a better idea of how best to write laws concerning cannabis. It would also lift arduous tax burdens on the cannabis industry that apply only to the more severe Schedule I and II drug categories. If that tax burden is lifted, there is a strong possibility the struggling weed industry suddenly would see its financial prospects brighten. Changing the classification of cannabis, however, would not have any impact on federal illegality.
Despite more and more states legalizing and regulating cannabis in recent years, federal law has remained unaltered for decades. A reschedule of cannabis would be a seismic shift in America’s drug laws, changing the perception of the drug, the trajectory of the industry and the potential for Congress to act in the future.
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