In a historic move on Thursday (May 16), the United States’ Department of Justice moved to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug, which will rank cannabis as less dangerous. 

However, the reclassification involves starting a process “where the Drug Enforcement Administration will gather and consider information and views submitted by the public, in order to make a determination about the appropriate schedule. During that process, and until a final rule is published, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance.”

Notably, in US, substances are categorised into schedules under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), based on their potential for abuse and safety. Schedule I substances are considered the most dangerous, while Schedule V substances are the least dangerous.

The move comes as the Attorney General submitted notice to the Federal Register of proposed rulemaking. 

It is pertinent to note that ever since the CSA was enacted by Congress in 1970, Cannabis remained classified as a Schedule I drug. However, on October 6, 2022, President Joe Biden directed the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a scientific review of marijuana’s federal scheduling. 

Following HHS’s recommendations and medical and scientific findings in August, 2023, the Attorney General consulted the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) for legal guidance on the matter. Now, in the latest, the Attorney General used his authority to begin the process of reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III.

In the United States, cannabis is legal for medical use in 38 out of 50 states and for recreational use in 24 states.

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This shows a shift in public policy and attitudes toward cannabis over recent years. The legalisation trends also reflect a growing recognition of the potential medical benefits of cannabis, as well as a broader acceptance of its recreational use. This continues to evolve as more states consider legalisation measures and as federal reviews of cannabis laws are undertaken.

(With inputs from agencies)

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However, the reclassification involves starting a process “where the Drug Enforcement Administration will gather and consider information and views submitted by the public, in order to make a determination about the appropriate schedule. During that process, and until a final rule is published, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance.””}]]  Read More  

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