Federal Health Officials Work To Move Marijuana To Lower-Risk Drug Category

(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
4:39 PM – Thursday, August 31, 2023

Following a review request from the Biden Administration last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed loosening federal marijuana regulations, a department official said on Wednesday.


Despite the fact that marijuana use is now legal in almost 40 U.S. states, several states and the federal government still prohibit it outright.

According to reports, a majority of Americans support reclassifying marijuana as being less dangerous than drugs like heroin or methamphetamines, which helps as a first step toward widespread legalization.

As a first step toward country-wide legalization, polls indicate that the majority of Americans favor reclassifying marijuana as being less dangerous than substances like methamphetamines or heroin.

As part of President Biden’s direction to HHS, the scheduling recommendation for marijuana was given to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on Tuesday, the spokesperson said.

“As part of this process, HHS conducted a scientific and medical evaluation for consideration by the DEA. [The] DEA has the final authority to schedule or reschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act. DEA will now initiate its review,” a DEA spokesperson said.

During Vice President Kamala Harris’ previous tenure as California’s attorney general, she vehemently opposed marijuana legalization and actively opposed a California reform initiative on the 2010 ballot, co-authoring an official voter guide argument stating that the measure “seriously compromises the safety of our communities, roadways, and workplaces.”

Yet, the current vice president flip-flopped in 2018 and changed her position by endorsing descheduling legislation, declaring that “we need to start regulating marijuana.”

The Controlled Substances Act now lists marijuana among narcotics like heroin and ecstasy as a Schedule I substance, indicating that it has a “high potential for abuse” and no recognized medicinal value.

The HHS recommends reclassifying marijuana as having a low to moderate risk of dependence and a low potential for abuse, similar to testosterone and ketamine.

The federal government’s categorization of marijuana could also be changed to make it easier for major stock markets to list firms involved in the cannabis industry and perhaps even open the door for international corporations to start doing business in the U.S.

“The administration’s process is an independent process led by HHS, led by the Department of Justice, and guided by evidence… we will let that process move forward,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

On learning of the development, shares of many cannabis companies, including Canopy Growth (WEED.TO), Tilray Brands (TLRY.O), and Cronos Group (CRON.TO), increased. Verano Holdings (VRNO.CD) and Sunburn Cannabis, for example, applauded the HHS action.

“For far too long, cannabis prohibition and its outdated status as a Schedule I substance have unduly harmed countless individuals affected by the failed War on Drugs,” said Verano Holdings CEO George Archos.

For many elderly people and veterans who deal with PTSD or intolerable physical pain, marijuana can be a healthier alternative to the more addictive federally legal drugs like opiates or barbiturates that are prescribed by doctors and that a significant percentage of individuals end up abusing.

According to a VA study from 2016, roughly 20 veterans commit suicide on average every day, and there is growing proof that this number is related to chronic pain. The study found a link between a higher opioid dosage and a higher risk of suicide in veterans.

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