May 26, 2024

President Biden

President Biden
Image: Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The Biden Administration is taking the next step to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug under federal law, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday. That move prompted cannabis stocks to pop.

President Biden said in a video posted to Instagram that at his request, and “guided by science and evidence,” the U.S. government has “studied the drug’s medical use and abuse and dependency potential and are recommending rescheduling.”

Initiating the process to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a less restrictive Schedule III drug is the first major step the government has taken in order to make significant policy changes. Plans to reclassify the drug initially emerged last month.

Per a DOJ filing, the Attorney General has submitted a proposal to initiate the rule-making process to Federal Register, which will consider reclassifying the drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the agency said.

But until the final rule is published, marijuana will remain a Schedule I controlled substance, the DOJ added. The process can be lengthy, in part because once the proposal is published by the Federal Register, it must undergo a period of public comment before it can be implemented — which can take up to a year.

Notably, other Schedule I drugs that fall under that umbrella include heroin and LSD, according to the DEA. Drugs including ketamine and testosterone are grouped under Schedule III drugs.

“This is monumental,” President Biden said, adding that “it’s an important move towards reversing long standing inequities.”

“Fair too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden later added. “I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word.”

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