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Justice Department formally moves to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug

Justice Department formally moves to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug


The Justice Department on Thursday formally moved to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug in a historic shift in generations of U.S. drug policy.

A proposed rule sent to the federal register recognizes the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledges it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. The plan approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use.

The Drug Enforcement Administration will next take public comment on the proposal in a potentially lengthy process. If approved, it would move marijuana away from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. Pot would instead be a Schedule III substance, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids.

The move comes after a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department, which launched a review of the drug’s status at the urging of President Joe Biden in 2022.

Biden also has moved to pardon thousands of people convicted federally of simple possession of marijuana and has called on governors and local leaders to take similar steps to erase convictions.

“This is monumental,” Biden said in a video statement, calling it an important move toward reversing longstanding inequities. “Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it.”

The election year announcement could help Biden, a Democrat, boost flagging support, particularly among younger voters.

The notice of proposed rulemaking submitted to the federal register kicks off a 60-day comment period followed by a possible review from an administrative judge, which could be a drawn-out process.

Biden and a growing number of lawmakers from both major political parties have been pushing for the DEA decision as marijuana has become increasingly decriminalized and accepted, particularly by younger people.

The U.S. Cannabis Council, a trade group, applauded the proposed change, saying it would “signal a tectonic shift away from the failed policies of the last 50 years.”

The available data reviewed by HHS shows that while marijuana “is associated with a high prevalence of abuse,” that potential is more in line with other schedule III substances, according to the proposed rule.

The HHS recommendations are binding until the draft rule is submitted, and Garland…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Fortune | FORTUNE…