DEA proposes reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III substance

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Key takeaways:

  • The move would place marijuana in a drug class with ketamine and some anabolic steroids.
  • Those who traffic Schedule III drugs are still subject to federal prosecution.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is proposing to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, moving it from a Schedule I to Schedule III substance.

As reported by the Associated Press, the proposal, which would not legalize marijuana for recreational use nationwide, would first need to be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the DEA is planning to switch marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance.
Image: Adobe Stock

Once OMB gives its consent, the DEA would allow a public-comment period to address the reclassification away from other Schedule I drugs such as heroin and LSD. The move to Schedule III would place marijuana in the same category as ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department, per the AP.

In a statement included within the AP’s report, Justice Department director of public affairs Xochitl Hinojosa said that, once the reclassification is published by the Federal Register, it will trigger a formal rulemaking process required as part of the Controlled Substances Act.

The expected shift comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s call for a review of federal marijuana laws in October 2022, which also precipitated an effort to pardon thousands of Americans with federal convictions for offenses including possession of the drug. Biden additionally urged state governors and other local leaders to take similar steps to erase marijuana convictions.

Schedule III drugs, which are regulated by the DEA, are controlled substances and subject to rules and regulations, and those involved in trafficking them without permission could still face federal criminal prosecution, according to the AP report. Once the declassification takes effect, according to the release, approximately 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the United States would have to register with the agency, like regular pharmacies, to fulfill strict reporting requirements according to current legislation.

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