Criminal law

US health officials urge transition to lower risk category (3)


US health officials recommend easing restrictions Marijuanaa move that paves the way for expanding the cannabis market across the country.

senior official in Department of Health and Human Services wrote the director of the Drug Enforcement Agency Ann Milgram The call for marijuana to be reclassified as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, according to an Aug. 29 letter seen by Bloomberg News.

A DEA spokesperson confirmed that the agency received the letter along with the Department of Health and Human Services recommendation. With the final authority to reschedule the drug, the spokesperson said, the DEA will now begin its own review.

The reclassification is a step short of fully legalizing the drug, but would mark a critical shift away from marijuana’s status as a Schedule I substance, which includes high-risk drugs such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule III substances, such as ketamine, are less dangerous and can be obtained legally with a prescription.

It can also give the chair Joe Biden It is an achievement that should be noted before next year’s elections, with the tax cuts paid by cannabis companies. Cannabis advocates say the rescheduling would be an acknowledgment by the federal government that marijuana has legitimate uses, and would be one step on the road to greater acceptance and availability.

Marijuana stocks, which are held more by retail than institutional investors, jumped on the news. the MG Pure Play 100 index, which tracks cannabis stocks, rose 13% on Wednesday, paring its year-to-date decline to 21%. Shares of Columbia Care Inc. rose. with 39% and Ayr Wellness Inc. by 29%.

Introducing the new Biden initiatives He focused on reducing penalties related to marijuana use in October, pardoning all previous federal offenses related to simple possession and urging governors to do the same for state offenses. He also asked the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled based on its medical use, abuse potential, safety and dependence.

Wednesday, White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre He told a news conference that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice, which oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, are engaged in an “independent operation” that is “guided by evidence.”

“We will allow this process to move forward,” she added, declining to comment further.

Possibility of abuse

Marijuana is the most widely used drug in the United States and is illegal at the federal level. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in 5 Americans used it at least once in 2019, according to the agency.

Its current status as a Schedule I substance indicates a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical use, along with no accepted safety for use under medical supervision. However, this goes against the rules of many states that allow the drug to be used recreationally and prescribed to treat everything from glaucoma to anxiety.

Edward Conklin, executive director of the American Hemp Council, said moving the drug to Schedule III would be the most important federal cannabis reform in modern history.

“Cannabis should never have been juxtaposed with heroin and placed at the center of our country’s devastating drug war,” Conklin said. “Fortunately, this era is coming to an end and is being replaced by a modern, scientific approach to regulating this plant.”

Rescheduling will not give the industry a comprehensive regulatory framework. The biggest impact will be giving Trapped Cannabis companies offer tax breaks and make it easier to find the drug. Previous restrictions meant cannabis companies couldn’t get the same kind of tax cuts as most companies, and its Schedule I designation meant it was difficult even for academics to study the drug.

Extensive review

HHS’s recommendation was based on a broad spectrum Food and Drug Administration Marijuana Classification Review, Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine He said in the letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looked at eight factors that determine the control status of a substance and recommended that marijuana be placed in the Schedule III category. Levine said the National Institute on Drug Abuse agreed with the FDA’s recommendation.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said the department’s “comprehensive scientific evaluation” was completed in less than 11 months in an effort to respond quickly to the president’s directives.

“It’s a great day for the cannabis industry,” said Brian Barash, co-chair of the Cannabis Scheduling Reform Alliance, an advocacy group, and deputy general counsel for Dutchie, a platform for the cannabis trade. “We just hope the federal government will follow through on their recommendations.”

Some cannabis industry advocates have said the recommended rescheduling is not enough, and would not resolve the conflict between the federal law’s 38 states that allow it for medical use and the 23 states that allow it for recreational use.

The chief executive of the National Cannabis Industry Association said the move “will do nothing to align federal law” with states, which each have their own laws to regulate it. Aaron Smith In an e-mailed statement. “The only way to fully resolve the myriad issues arising from federal conflict with state law is to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate the product in a manner similar to alcohol,” he said.

(Updating stock movements and adding expert quotation in the eleventh paragraph)

– With the help of Akela Gardner And Tiffany Carey.

To contact reporters about this story:
Riley Griffin in Washington at;
Ike Sweetlets in boston at;
Tiffany Carey in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Cynthia Coons in

John Lowerman, Jonathan Roeder

© 2023 Bloomberg LP All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.


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