US authorities to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug

The US Government has moved to reclassify marijuana as a less serious drug.
US reclassify marijuana

The US Government has moved to reclassify marijuana as a less serious drug.

It comes after a Health Department recommendation, which found that marijuana no longer fit the criteria of its current Schedule I classification. Substances in this category are considered to carry a high risk of abuse.

The change, which is subject to an approvals process, won’t legalise the drug for recreational use at the federal level. However, it is expected to reduce taxes for medicinal marijuana businesses, and ease research restrictions.

Marijuana reclassification

The US Department of Justice plans to downgrade marijuana to a ‘Schedule III’ controlled substance.

Schedule I drugs (e.g. heroin and MDMA) aren’t permitted for medicinal use.

Schedule III drugs (e.g. ketamine and some steroids) are considered to have a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence” and aren’t taxed in the same way.

Biden’s comments

The US Government says the change builds on efforts to reverse inequities caused by a “failed approach to marijuana”.

President Joe Biden has dismissed thousands of criminal convictions for marijuana use and possession.

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” Biden said last year.

The latest reforms will be open to feedback before they’re formalised.


US policy group ‘Smart Approaches for Marijuana’ (SAM) opposes the move, calling it the “normalisation” of marijuana. It plans to challenge the reclassification, believing there isn’t enough research to support the change.

SAM President Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser, accused the US Government of prioritising “politics, not science”.

“Rescheduling marijuana during an election year makes it clear the nation’s drug policy is being used to reverse bad polling trends… namely [with] young people.”

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