A top official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended on Tuesday that the federal government ease its restrictions for marijuana, Bloomberg reported.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary of health for HHS, wrote a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recommending that the government reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3 drug under the Controlled Substances Act to be considered as safe as drugs like testosterone and ketamine, according to Politico. Schedule 1 drugs include substances such as heroin and are considered extremely dangerous and addictive, while Schedule 3 drugs are considered only mildly addictive and can be acquired over the counter with a prescription, Bloomberg reported.
“Cannabis should have never been scheduled alongside heroin and placed at the center of our nation’s drug war,” said Edward Conklin, the executive director of the US Cannabis Council, according to Bloomberg. “Thankfully that era is coming to a close and is being replaced by a modern and scientific approach to regulating this plant.”
The HHS provided its recommendations on marijuana scheduling after receiving a directive requesting review of the drug from President Joe Biden, according to a DEA statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. The department conducted a scientific and medical review of the drug before it submitted its findings in a letter to the DEA.
While rescheduling marijuana would decrease the penalties associated with illegal possession, the measure would not decriminalize the drug at the federal level, Politico reported.
The District of Columbia and 23 states allow for recreational use of marijuana, and 38 states as well as D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use, USA Today reported.
“The only way to fully resolve the myriad of issues stemming from the federal conflict with state law is to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate the product in a manner similar to alcohol,” Aaron Smith, the CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The HHS did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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