New Era for Marijuana: Biden Administration’s Plan to Reclassify from Schedule 1 to 3 Affecting Millions

May 17, 2024
2 mins read
Joe Biden, Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)
Joe Biden, Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

President Joe Biden’s administration is advancing its strategy to reassess the classification of marijuana as a drug, both for medicinal use and in the treatment of addiction.

This next step towards a Final Rule was directed in 2022 by President Biden to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Both institutions analyzed the options to reconfigure the classification of marijuana, which could affect how individuals are prosecuted and potentially lead to nationwide legalization, a decision that would need to be made by Congress.

“President Biden said during his campaign no one should be in jail for using or possessing marijuana that’s why in 2022 President Biden requested that DOJ (Dept. of Justice) and HHS (Department of Health & Human Services) review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law today the administration is taking a major step toward reclassifying marijuana from a schedule one to a schedule three drug under federal law if finalized Mar marijuana will no longer hold the higher level classification it,” stated a White House spokesperson. This means that marijuana would be placed in a lower category among other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. “currently holds over fentanyl and meth drugs driving our nation’s overdose epidemic and it will remove burdensome long-standing barriers to critical,” the spokesperson noted.

President Biden released a video about the new step to reduce prosecutions for marijuana use. “This is monumental. Today, my administration took a major step to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3 drug. It’s an important move towards reversing long-standing inequities,” said the President. “Today’s announcement builds on the work we’ve already done to pardon a record number of federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana…. Look folks, no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana. Period.”

Biden asserts that the prosecution for marijuana use “is a mistake” and he aims to do something to rectify it. “You have my word,” he says at the end of his message.

In the Federal Register, any person or organization can submit public comments on the proposed rule. There is a 60-day period, after which the DOJ will integrate the comments and develop a Final Rule.

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Joe Biden, President of the United States, has formalized the process to reclassify marijuana as a low-risk drug in the country. It is worth noting that last April, the Department of Justice recommended the reclassification of cannabis to Schedule 3, a category that includes prescription medications like ketamine and acetaminophen with codeine.

Schedule I includes drugs under strict and controlled management like heroin. This Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) presented a regulation proposal, for which comments on the reclassification of marijuana can be submitted for 60 days.

The DEA has five different categories for classifying the medical use of various drugs and their addictive potential. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous, and their risk potential decreases as the schedule number increases. Marijuana has been on Schedule I for over 50 years, sharing this category with heroin, LSD, peyote, and ecstasy, which are noted for having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, subjecting them to strict regulations.

Schedule II includes substances with high probabilities of abuse and a severe potential for psychological or physical dependence. This list includes cocaine, Vicodin, methadone, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

Schedule V includes medications that contain limited quantities of certain narcotics or have a low potential for abuse, such as some cough syrups, anti-diarrheal drugs, and analgesics.

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