US Government Seeks To Reclassify Drug As Lower-Risk

( – Restrictions on cannabis could be easing after a letter was sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that recommends reclassifying it as a Schedule III substance.

The HHS recommendation follows a review of how cannabis is scheduled that was requested last year by President Joe Biden. The review was led by the Food and Drug Administration. The letter the HHS sent to the DEA is one of the steps in the review process.

According to a DEA spokesperson, the review by the DEA can now begin, with the DEA having the “final authority” for the scheduling or rescheduling of cannabis.

Before any scheduling or rescheduling is finalized, there will be a rulemaking process that includes a period for public comments.

Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances, such as heroin as well as LSD, are considered to be the most dangerous as they have the highest potential to be abused as well as having no accepted medical use.

If rescheduled as a Schedule III substance, cannabis would be classified with drugs such as ketamine and testosterone. Schedule III substances have a lower abuse potential as well as moderate to low potential for addiction.

While cannabis is illegal on the federal level, it is legal for adult recreational use in 23 states and legal for medical use in 38 states. The reclassification of cannabis is seen as a step toward wider legalization. If restrictions on cannabis eased at the federal level, it could allow major stock exchanges to list cannabis businesses as well as more avenues for research. Foreign companies could also potentially be allowed to sell their products in the U.S.

Rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule III substance would still make it illegal on the federal level. The only way to make it federally legal would be to declassify it which would take an “act of Congress,” according to the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation executive director Andrew Freedman.

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