HomeNewsDEA Cannabis Rescheduling "Significant", But …

DEA Cannabis Rescheduling “Significant”, But …

Reacting to a report the DEA will move to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III, NORML says it’s not enough.

In October 2022, US President Joe Biden directed a review be carried out of how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) subsequently recommended rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA); placing it in a less restrictive category.

Schedule I is meant to be reserved for substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The Schedule III classification is for drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence – less than Schedule II but more than Schedule IV.

But the HHS doesn’t have final say – that goes to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and then that must be reviewed by another agency and go up for public comment – with the possibility of a judicial review. The DEA will then announce its final rule and any changes will take effect 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register.

The DEA last tussled with rescheduling in 2016, but wound up refusing to change the status quo. In fact, the HHS and/or DEA have been petitioned to conduct similar reviews five times since 1972, with each attempt failing to result in change.

Reports started appearing yesterday that the DEA had arrived at a decision – to accept the HHS recommendation and reclassify cannabis as Schedule III. While it’s a step forward, not everyone will be happy – some wanted cannabis descheduled altogether to avoid conflicts with federal law.

“Rescheduling the cannabis plant to Schedule III fails to adequately address this conflict, as existing state legalization laws — both adult use and medical — will continue to be in conflict with federal regulations, thereby perpetuating the existing divide between state and federal marijuana policies,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano.

NORML maintains the cannabis plant should be removed from the CSA entirely. This would enable states to regulate it as they see fit, without conflicting with or violating federal law. NORML sees the federal government’s role as providing standards and guidelines for regulated cannabis markets.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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