The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently recommended in a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration that the agency reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk drug.
CNBC confirmed with the DEA on Wednesday that the Health Department suggested moving marijuana from a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act to a Schedule III.
There are five distinct drug categories, which are determined by the substance’s acceptable medical use and dependency potential.
According to the DEA, Schedule I substances are drugs with no accepted medical use and “a high potential for abuse.”
“Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote,” the DEA stated.
Schedule II substances have “a high potential for abuse,” including some prescription drugs.
Schedule III drugs have “a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Substances in this category include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone, the DEA reported.
A spokesperson for the agency told CNBC that it will begin a review of the drug to determine whether to reclassify it. If the DEA accepts the request to reclassify marijuana to a lower drug category, it could reduce criminal penalties.
Marijuana is currently legal for medical use in 38 states, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported.
The Biden administration previously requested that the Health Department and U.S. attorney general assess the drug’s Schedule I classification. In 2020, Biden ran on the promise to “decriminalize” the substance.
The Minority Cannabis Business Association urged Biden “to make good on his promise to end arrests for marijuana and fully remove marijuana from the CSA.”
“This is the only way to ensure equity, social justice, and economic opportunities in the cannabis industry,” the MCBA added.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, “I can now share that, following the data and science, @HHSGov has responded to @POTUS’ directive to me for the Department to provide a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA. We’ve worked to ensure that a scientific evaluation be completed and shared expeditiously.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) applauded the Health Department for doing “the right thing.”
“DEA should now follow through on this important step to greatly reduce the harm caused by draconian marijuana laws,” Schumer wrote on X. “There is still much more that needs to be done legislatively to end the federal prohibition on cannabis and roll back the War on Drugs.”
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!