The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has called on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to relax federal regulations on cannabis. The drug is illegal at the federal level, despite 40 of the 50 U.S. states passing laws legalizing its use in some form.
Cannabis currently falls into the same class of drugs as heroin and LSD. If the DEA changes its classification, it could mark the biggest change in U.S. drug policy in decades.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has no medical use and a high potential for abuse. The change would bring it in line with drugs listed as having a low potential for dependence and abuse. Ketamine, anabolic steroids and medications containing up to 90 milligrams of codeine per dose fall under that classification.
Last year, President Joe Biden asked his attorney general and health secretary to oversee a study into whether cannabis should be listed as a minor drug. A proposal was presented to the DEA by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday. As part of this process, HHS conducted a scientific and medical review for DEA consideration.
The recommendation means that cannabis will not be completely removed from the Controlled Substances Act list. However, cannabis would move from scedule 1 to 3 on this list. This could make further research easier and allow the banking industry to operate more freely in this industry. Currently, most marijuana businesses in the US are forced to operate with cash due to tax laws that prohibit banks from handling funds generated from cannabis sales.
Polls show that a majority of Americans support some form of legalization of the drug. Cannabis is legal for adult recreational use in 23 states, including all West Coast states and Washington DC. It is authorized for medical use in 38 states.
Source: bbc.com (EN)