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Congressional Report Predicts DEA ‘Likely’ To Approve Marijuana Reclassification


The Drug Enforcement Administration is “likely” to approve a recommendation from the Biden administration to reclassify marijuana under the nation’s drug laws, according to a report issued by congressional researchers this week. The report, which was released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Wednesday, comes after a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services last month that calls for cannabis to be rescheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). If approved by the DEA, rescheduling marijuana would have sweeping implications for federal policy regarding cannabis, including effects on housing, immigration, gun rights, taxation of marijuana businesses and more.

On August 29, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine wrote a letter to DEA head Anne Milgram recommending that cannabis be removed from Schedule I of the CSA. The recommendation comes after an executive order from President Joseph Biden in October 2022 directed the heads of the Department of Justice and HHS to review the classification of marijuana under federal law. Under the HHS recommendation, which was issued after a review of the available medical and scientific evidence, cannabis would be rescheduled under Schedule III of the CSA, a less restrictive classification than Schedule I that would ease research into cannabis.

The HHS recommendation to relax the federal restrictions on cannabis is not binding and must first be approved by the DEA, which has confirmed it is bound by the health agency’s scientific and medical findings, according to a report from Marijuana Moment. However, noting that the DEA an HHS recommendation to reschedule the synthetic THC drug Marinol in 1999, the CRS wrote that “if past is prologue it could be likely that DEA will reschedule marijuana according to HHS’s recommendation.”

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