DEA To Reschedule Marijuana As ‘Less Dangerous Drug’. Medical Marijuana To Be Legalized

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DEA reschedules marijuana as 'non dangerous drug'. Recognizes medical marijuana

Marijuana will soon be recognized for medical purposes and reclassified as a less dangerous drug. 

According to reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is looking into rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug.This includes ketamine, anabolic steroids and some acetaminophen-codeine combinations. However the proposal will still need to be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

So is recreational marijuana legal now?

Unfortunately no. 

Under the scheduling marijuana will still be classified as a controlled substance, making it legitimate for licensed medical use. It will however ease up on possession prosecutions on a federal level. 

These changes follow on the heels of President Joe Biden’s call to review the federal law on marijuana in October 2022. This was followed by a pardon for thousands of Americans convicted for ‘simple possession’ of marijuana. 

“I think it reflects the reality of both today’s culture but also the public sentiment. That’s most significant,” says former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson in an interview with Fox News

“Whenever we see over a dozen states now have medical marijuana, clearly there’s a movement for reclassification,” he said. “And so it’s not a surprise to me.”

At present medical marijuana is legal in 38 states while recreational marijuana is recognized in 24 states. 

Hutchinson reiterated however that although the reclassification might soften penalties for cannabis-related activity, “it will remain illegal”. 

A big win for cannabis-related research

Clinical studies are notoriously difficult to conduct in the U.S. Because of the legal barriers, researchers have to rely on participant’s anecdotal reports instead of administering the cannabis to participants, observing them and recording the data. Which is why most research tend to come from scientists outside the U.S

With the new classification and restriction lifted, researchers will be able to source for medical cannabis more easily and get funding to authorize clinical studies. However some from the scientific community are conservative that we will see any immediate changes as they will still have to work with the federal Food and Drug Administration to oversee sourcing from state-licensed dispensaries for example. 

“It’s going to be really confusing for a long time,” said Ziva Cooper, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids. “When the dust has settled, I don’t know how many years from now, research will be easier.”

A boost to the economy

The marijuana industry is estimated to be worth nearly $30 billion. The change to federal regulations could help reduce tax burden for businesses by at least 70% according to industry groups. 

Under the current federal tax code, businesses selling Schedule I and Schedule II drugs are considered ‘trafficking’ and therefore cannot deduct rent, payroll or various other expenses normally considered as write-offs for other businesses. A reclassification to Schedule will allow marijuana businesses to be seen as legitimate transactions and bypass this tax restriction. 

“You’re going to make these state-legal programs stronger,” says Adam Goers, of The Cannabist Company, formerly Columbia Care. He and a coalition of corporate and other players have been campaigning for the rescheduling for years. 

The reduction in costs also opens doors to more cannabis promotion and advertising according to Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Center.

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