The move would not legalize marijuana, but could move it from its Schedule I classification to a Schedule III
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Aug. 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug under the Controlled Substances Act, a move that could potentially expand acceptance of the drug.
The DEA confirmed receiving an Aug. 29 letter requesting the change and will begin its own review, a spokesperson told Bloomberg News. The move would not legalize marijuana, but could move it from its Schedule I classification to a Schedule III. Schedule I drugs, which carry a high risk for abuse, include LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. Meanwhile, Schedule III drugs can be obtained with a prescription.
Last October, President Joe Biden announced initiatives to ease marijuana penalties. He pardoned all prior simple possession offenses charged federally, asking states to do the same. At that time, Biden also asked the HHS and U.S. Attorney General to review marijuana scheduling, its medical use, potential for abuse and dependence, and safety.
Cannabis advocates have said that rescheduling the drug would be acknowledging marijuana’s legitimate uses, Bloomberg News reported. About 18 percent of Americans used cannabis at least once in 2019, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The HHS recommendation comes after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review that considered eight factors when determining whether a reclassification was warranted, Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, M.D., told Bloomberg News. Levine added that the National Institute on Drug Abuse agreed with the FDA recommendation.
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