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Twenty-four states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. In contrast, the United States government has regulated cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as a Schedule I substance for the better part of a century. However, the Biden administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is reportedly on the brink of transforming American drug policy with a proposal to reschedule cannabis, reformulating long-standing regulations and opening the doors to wide-ranging effects across the country.

Understanding the Impact of Cannabis Rescheduling

The proposal, which the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was reviewing, would depart from the established approach to cannabis. The proposal would not advocate for the outright legalization of cannabis for recreational use. Instead, it would seek to shift the classification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III, regulating its production and sale similar to substances like ketamine and certain anabolic steroids. It would acknowledge the potential medicinal value of cannabis and recognize its lower potential for abuse compared to other substances currently classified as highly dangerous.

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s support for the proposal underscores its importance within the Biden administration. In October 2022, President Biden called for a review of federal cannabis laws and has taken steps to pardon individuals convicted of minor cannabis offenses. In August 2023, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra confirmed that his agency had made a recommendation in response.

The Future of Cannabis Industry with Rescheduling

Rescheduling could pave the way for expanded research into the medical benefits of cannabis. It could also boost the burgeoning cannabis industry, reducing tax burdens and fostering economic growth. It could also change how the criminal justice system approaches cannabis-related offenses.

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