Easing restrictions on marijuana? HHS calls for classifying weed as less dangerous: report
- The Department of Health and Human Services has recommended reclassifying marijuana as a less harmful substance than cocaine or heroin.
- The department sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration stating that marijuana should be classified as a schedule three substance, which signifies moderate to low potential for dependence.
- Currently, marijuana is classified as a schedule one substance, which indicates no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse.
- President Joe Biden had requested a review of marijuana's classification under federal law, and the recommendation aligns with his previous steps to ease restrictions on the drug.
WASHINGTON - The Department of Health and Human Services has moved to reclassify marijuana as less harmful than cocaine or heroin, a possible first step toward wider legalization, according to reports.
In a letter obtained by Bloomberg News, a Health and Human Services Department official wrote to Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram that marijuana should be classified as a schedule three substance, which consists of drugs “with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.”
It is currently a schedule one substance, which are drugs with no accepted medical use and have a “high potential of abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
President Joe Biden had asked Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal law last year.
Late in the day, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement: "Following the data and science, HHS has expeditiously responded to President Biden’s directive to HHS Secretary Becerra and provided its scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA on August 29, 2023."
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday in a press briefing that both agencies are engaged in an “independent process” that is “guided by evidence.”
Biden also had taken steps to ease the restrictions of marijuana last year, including announcing a pardon of all prior offenses for the possession of marijuana and urging governors to do the same in states.
As of April, 38 states and the District of Columbia allow for the medical use of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 23 states and the District of Columbia, states have passed measures to regulate cannabis for adult non-medical use.