HomeNewsHHS Cannabis Rescheduling Recommendation Released In Full

HHS Cannabis Rescheduling Recommendation Released In Full

Finally, the full details of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) cannabis rescheduling recommendations have been unveiled.

In the USA, cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Among the criteria for a substance to be categorised as Schedule I, the DEA states:

“Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

It’s an odd state of affairs given 38 states have some sort of legal medical cannabis program and Schedule I puts marijuana in the same category as drugs such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

In October 2022, US President Joe Biden said he wanted a review into how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was charged with the task of carrying out a review and providing the DEA with its recommendations. The HHS reportedly recommended to the DEA marijuana should be rescheduled to Schedule III. Schedule III substances are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.

Up until late last week, the only publicly available information from that review were heavily redacted versions of the findings along with the related HHS letter to DEA from late August 2023. What wasn’t redacted in that letter provided pretty much zero useful information.

This has now changed with the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the HHS review. Some of the important points contained in the documents indicate:

  • Marijuana has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
  • Marijuana has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II.
  • Abuse of marijuana may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

You can read the full HHS marijuana documents here – hat-tip to Marijuana Moment. The documents were released to Attorney Matt Zorn, following his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the rescheduling memo.

The DEA, which has final say in such matters, has come under increasing pressure recently to arrive at a decision – and one that reflects the HHS recommendation. Congressman Steve Cohen recently wrote to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, encouraging her department to get cracking and more recently a group of 12 state attorneys general added their signatures to a letter to the DEA urging it to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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