US Health Officials Recommend De-scheduling Cannabis
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The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recommended that cannabis be reclassified from Schedule I to the less restrictive Schedule III within the Controlled Substance Act.
As first reported by Bloomberg News, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Rachel Levine, submitted a letter on August 29 recommending the rescheduling to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
A DEA spokesperson confirmed to Marijuana Moment that the department received the letter and will initiate a review.
“We can confirm DEA received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services providing its findings and recommendation on marijuana scheduling, pursuant to President Biden’s request for a review,” a DEA spokesperson told Marijuana Moment.
President Joe Biden tasked the HHS and US Attorney General with reviewing the scheduled status of cannabis last October. During this process, the HHS coordinated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a scientific review of the plant and its legal status.
“As part of this process, HHS conducted a scientific and medical evaluation for consideration by DEA,” the DEA spokesperson continued. “DEA has the final authority to schedule or reschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act. DEA will now initiate its review.”
If the DEA chooses to reschedule, as per the HHS recommendation, cannabis would remain federally illegal in the US but would become significantly easier to study.
“Right now, we are really quite stuck by the lack of regulation surrounding cannabis,” Dr Joshua Levy, director of resident research at Emory University’s Department of Otolaryngology, told Analytical Cannabis in 2020.
Tax break opportunities would also become available to US cannabis companies, were cannabis to be de-scheduled to Schedule III. The rescheduling could also prompt further reform, such as banking access for cannabis companies. These possibilities have excited many in the US cannabis industry following news of the HHS letter.
“It’s historic. It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in cannabis reform at the federal level, ever,” Shane Pennington, a partner at Washington DC-based law firm Porter Wright, told MJBizDaily.