The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration regarding marijuana policy, and Senate leaders hailed it on Wednesday as a first step toward easing federal restrictions on the drug. .
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Wednesday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the agency responded to President Joe Biden’s request “to provide the DEA with a marijuana programming recommendation. “.
“We have worked to ensure that a scientific assessment is made and shared quickly,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that HHS recommended that marijuana be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III.
“HHS did the right thing,” said Schumer, DN.Y. “The DEA should now follow through on this important step to significantly reduce the harm caused by draconian marijuana laws.”
Reclassifying the drug would reduce or even eliminate criminal penalties for possession. Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD.
According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs “currently have no accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Schedule III drugs “have less abuse potential than Schedule I or II substances and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” They currently include ketamine and some anabolic steroids.
Biden requested this review in October 2022 when he pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released a statement calling for marijuana to be completely deprogrammed.
“However, HHS’s recommendation to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug is not without consequence,” he added. “If the HHS recommendation is ultimately implemented, it will be a historic milestone for a country whose cannabis policies are out of touch with reality.”
Bloomberg News first reported on the HHS recommendation.
In response to Bloomberg’s report, the US Cannabis Council, a non-profit organization, said, “We enthusiastically welcome today’s news. … Rescheduling will have many benefits, including signaling to the criminal justice system that cannabis is a lower priority and providing a critical solution. economic lifeline for the cannabis industry.