Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Biden administration plans to reclassify marijuana, easing restrictions nationwide

By 37ci3 Apr30,2024

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will take a historic step toward easing federal restrictions on cannabis, planning to announce a temporary rule reclassifying the drug for the first time since the Controlled Substances Act was enacted more than 50 years ago. NBC News reports that decision.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to approve the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to change marijuana from the most serious Schedule I to the less strict Schedule III, marking the first time the US government has acknowledged its potential medical benefits. and start studying them seriously.

The Justice Department “continues to work on this rule,” a Biden administration official said. “We have no further comment at this time.”

What does rescheduling mean?

Since 1971, marijuana has been in the same category as heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD. According to the Schedule I classification, each substance is defined as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule III substances include Tylenol with codeine, steroids, and testosterone.

By changing the timing of marijuana, the drug will now be researched and studied to determine specific medical benefits, opening the door for pharmaceutical companies to engage in the sale and distribution of medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

For the $34 billion cannabis industry, the move would also remove significant tax burdens on businesses in states where the drug is legal, notably getting rid of Internal Revenue Service code Section 280E, which currently prohibits legal cannabis companies from deducting what would otherwise be ordinary business. . cost

The Justice Department’s rescheduling decision could help curtail the black market, which thrives despite legalization in states like New York and California and undercuts heavily regulated and highly taxed legal markets.

Years are made

President Joe Biden in October 2022 ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to review the classification of marijuana. Federal scientists concluded there is credible evidence that cannabis provides medical benefits and poses fewer health risks than other controlled substances.

Biden even made history in his State of the Union address this spring, making his first mention of marijuana from the House floor and mentioning the federal investigation process. “No one should be imprisoned for using or possessing marijuana,” the president said during his speech.

Biden was the White House while serving as vice president in the administration of former President Barack Obama opposed to any legalization of marijuana because it would “create significant health and safety risks for all Americans.”

Jim Cole, who served as deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, is the author of the now famous book. Cole Memo 2013 paved the way for the modern marijuana market. The memo reduced federal interference in states that legalized marijuana as long as they implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana.

Cole, now a member of the National Cannabis Roundtable, told NBC News this week that reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III would “open up the ability to actually test it and put it in the lab without all the restrictive measures.” of a Schedule I drug.

Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smarter Approaches to Marijuana and a former adviser to the Obama Administration, argued that the decision to reclassify marijuana was “the result of a politicized process” that would be “devastating to American children who will be bombarded.” with attractive advertising and promotion of pot products suitable for children.”

“The only winner here is the marijuana industry, which will get a new tax break and thus expand their profit margins,” Sabet said. “Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule III drug sends the message that marijuana is now less addictive and less dangerous than it was before. In fact, today’s high-potency, super-potent marijuana is more addictive and has been linked to psychosis and other mental illnesses, IQ loss, and other problems.

There are researchers expressed his concerns about high-potential marijuana- and cannabis-induced psychiatric disorders, particularly in young men.

Some challenges ahead

Once the DEA makes its official announcement, the marijuana industry will immediately benefit. But with the DEA’s proposed rule change comes a public review period that could cause trouble and possibly change in the rescheduling proposal.

After that public comment period ends and the Office of Management and Budget reviews the decision, Congress can also rescind the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which gives the legislature the power to review rules issued by federal agencies. Democrats control the Senate with a 51-seat majority, and two-thirds of the House and Senate would need support for the CRA to pass, meaning the marijuana overhaul is likely to survive.

Although cannabis remains a divisive topic on Capitol Hill, there is growing support on a bipartisan basis for marijuana reform, largely driven by voters. Nearly six in ten Americans say marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational purposes. Pew Research survey last month. Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 24 states.

Congress is considering its bills

Congress is considering its own measures that would make it easier for legal marijuana businesses to grow and allow more small and minority-owned shops to flood the market.

The SAFER Bank Actfor example, would give legal marijuana businesses access to traditional banking and financial services and could pass both chambers by the end of the year.

Legislators think so too The HOPE Actanother bipartisan bill that would provide resources to states and local governments to automatically expunge criminal records for minor, nonviolent marijuana offenses.

There is only a Democratic effort to remove marijuana entirely from the Controlled Substances Act, giving states the power to create their own marijuana laws and prioritizing restorative and economic justice for those affected by the War on Drugs.

But there is fatigue among lawmakers who remember the last time Congress passed a drug law.

The Republican-led Senate legalized hemp production in the 2018 Farm Bill, a leading decision to synthetic and exotic cannabinoids, which are often sold without regulation, especially in states where marijuana is not legal.

It’s a gray area that’s gaining momentum from both sides of the aisle, most recently Rise of Delta-8: a synthetic THC product that uses chemicals to convert hemp-derived CBD into Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol—some of which are harmful.

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