DOJ moves to reclassify marijuana in historic shift

The Justice Department has made a historic move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, recognizing its medical uses and lower potential for abuse compared to other substances. The proposed rule, approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland, would shift marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III substance, alongside ketamine and some steroids.

This change comes after a recommendation from the Health and Human Services Department, prompted by President Joe Biden in 2022. Biden has also taken steps to pardon thousands of individuals federally convicted of marijuana possession and has called for similar actions at the state and local levels.

While the announcement could help boost Biden's support, particularly among younger voters, the process of reclassification will involve a 60-day comment period and a potential review by an administrative judge.

Both Democrats and Republicans have been advocating for the DEA decision as marijuana decriminalization and acceptance have increased, especially among younger demographics. Some, like Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have applauded the move and called for further steps toward legalization.

Critics of the reclassification argue that there isn't enough scientific data to support the move and that it could have negative consequences. Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser, believes that politics, rather than science, is driving the decision.

Despite the reclassification, marijuana will still be a controlled substance under federal regulations, and those involved in unauthorized trafficking could face criminal prosecution. The shift in federal policy is seen as a step towards aligning with the laws of many states that have already legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use.

The change in classification could have implications for the marijuana industry, potentially reducing tax burdens and easing research restrictions. However, the full impact of the reclassification on the criminal justice system and the industry remains to be seen.


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