A top official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wrote Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram calling for cannabis to be reclassified from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act, according to a letter dated August 29, Bloomberg News reported.
With the HHS’s recommendation in hand, the DEA is now obligated to conduct its own review process before coming to a decision. If the DEA does reclassify marijuana, it would be a historic shift away from its current classification as a Schedule I substance, which includes drugs such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
“We can confirm DEA received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services providing its findings and recommendation on marijuana scheduling, pursuant to President Biden’s request for a review,” said a DEA spokesperson. “As part of this process, HHS conducted a scientific and medical evaluation for consideration by DEA. DEA has the final authority to schedule or reschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act. DEA will now initiate its review.”
The White House administration rolled out initiatives focused on marijuana in October, including a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession, while urging governors to do the same with state offenses. Biden asked the HHS secretary and the US Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law based on its medical use, potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability.
Arizona legalized marijuana for medical use in 2010 and for recreational use in 2020. It is legal for Arizona medical marijuana patients and anyone 21 or older to purchase marijuana products from Arizona dispensaries.