Feds Clear Last Hurdle in Reclassifying Marijuana

(StraightNews.org) – The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will reclassify marijuana as less damaging than other recreational narcotics and formally acknowledge its medicinal benefits. Experts say the reclassification could have profound implications for nationwide drug policy.

The move must still be reviewed and approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and while it will classify the popular drug as safer than others, it will not decriminalize it at a federal level. If the White House Office approves the move, marijuana will transfer from its current position as a Schedule I controlled substance, where it sits alongside heroin, to Schedule III.

Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Xochitl Hinojosa confirmed that the Attorney General had approved the change, which commentators say indicates the White House will rubber-stamp. Analysts say the Biden campaign may utilize the issue to enhance the President’s popularity as he loses significant support from younger voters nationwide.

Marijuana is illegal under US federal law, and that will not change under the new plans, but the new scheduling will define marijuana as a drug less likely to lead to severe addiction or health damage.

Last year, Ohio joined a growing list of states that permit recreational marijuana use, although several other states allow it for medicinal purposes. Legal experts say there is still some national confusion surrounding the drug, mainly because federal law overrides state law under the US Constitution. A compromise appears to come from the so-called Cole Memo, which allows states to decriminalize marijuana provided there is still some semblance of regulation and the state is not directly involved with cultivation or sale.

California was the first state to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal use in 1996. In 2012, Colorado and Washington went further and allowed recreational use. By 2024, two dozen states had followed suit, and recreational marijuana use is now permitted in states as varied as New York, Maine, Rhode Island, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Copyright 2024, StraightNews.org