Industry News

The U.S. Justice Department propose to reclassify marijuana as a safer drug


The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday formally introduced a historic proposal to reclassify marijuana as a safer drug and make it clear that the drug poses a lower risk of abuse than other higher-risk drugs. The regulation, if enacted, would also facilitate more research into its medicinal benefits.

"In addition, no safety concerns have been identified in FDA's review, suggesting that the medical use of marijuana does not present an unacceptably high safety risk," the proposal said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is currently accepting public feedback on the proposal, a process that could take longer, but Attorney General Merrick Garland has endorsed it. If approved, the new rule would remove marijuana from a Class I drug (which includes heroin, LSD, etc.) and make it a Class III drug, in the same class as ketamine and some anabolic steroids.

The department launched a classification review of marijuana in 2022 at the request of President Joe Biden. In addition, Biden has taken steps to pardon thousands of people sentenced at the federal level for marijuana possession and has asked state governors and mayors to take similar action to cancel the sentences. He hopes the move will boost Democratic voter support in an election year, especially among younger voters. Biden said, "Too many people's lives have been put in jeopardy because of the mishandling of marijuana, and I promise to right those wrongs." You can take my word for it."

Previously, the Assistant Surgeon General at the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had recommended as early as August 2023 that the DEA include marijuana as a Class III drug. The DEA has not yet defined the specific classification that cannabis should receive.

If marijuana classification is relaxed at the federal level, marijuana companies will benefit, such as being eligible for listing on major stock exchanges and receiving more generous tax breaks. In addition, they may face fewer banking restrictions. Because marijuana is federally illegal, most U.S. banks do not lend money or provide services to marijuana companies, prompting many to rely on cash transactions.

The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the Justice Department's proposal and can also request a public hearing on the proposal.

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