Justice Dept. Plans Reclassification of Cannabis to Less Dangerous Drug

May 17, 2024 by Tom Ramstack
Justice Dept. Plans Reclassification of Cannabis to Less Dangerous Drug
Cannabis. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a recommendation for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to relax restrictions on cannabis.

“This is monumental,” Biden said in a video announcement. “Today, my administration took a major step to reclassify [cannabis] from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3 drug. It’s an important move toward reversing long-standing inequities.”

The proposed rulemaking by the Department of Justice was published in the Federal Register. 

Cannabis, whose active ingredient is THC (delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), has been classified as a highly restricted and illegal Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act since 1970.

Biden’s proposal represents the biggest change in drug policy since cannabis was criminalized.

The publication of the proposed rule comes after federal health officials determined the drug had medical uses and was not seriously dangerous.

Schedule 1 refers to high-level illegal drugs like heroin that carry felony penalties. 

Schedule 3 is considered dangerous only when it is abused but is not strictly enforced for possession of it. Other Schedule 3 drugs include steroids and ketamine.

Biden first recommended a review of federal cannabis law in October 2022. About the same time, he pardoned thousands of persons convicted on federal charges of possession of cannabis.

“It adds to the action we’ve taken to lift barriers to housing, employment, small business loans, and so much more for tens of thousands of Americans,” Biden said in his announcement.

“Look, folks, no one should be in jail simply for using or possessing [cannabis], period,” Biden said. “Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to [cannabis]. And I’m committed to righting those wrongs.”

For the growing number of cannabis dispensaries nationwide, it means they will need to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Among the 24 states that legalized recreational cannabis and 17 that allow it for medical purposes, the drug currently is regulated only by local authorities.

There are about 15,000 cannabis dispensaries nationwide that would be affected by any DEA rule change. The anticipated new federal oversight also could create new regulatory expenses and restrictions for them, possibly cutting into their hefty profits.

Under the proposed rule change, the DEA would treat cannabis dispensaries like pharmacies with strict reporting requirements. The agency would allow sales of cannabis for medical reasons but would continue to ban recreational use.

According to a survey by MJBizDaily, the average dispensary owner makes between $250,000 and $500,000 per year. The average dispensary reports about $2 million in sales yearly with a 12% profit margin.

MJBizDaily refers to Marijuana Business Daily, a Colorado-based business news outlet for professionals in the recreational and medical cannabis industry. 

The DEA is proposing the rule change on a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after a policy review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The DEA is a division of the Justice Department.

“Once published by the Federal Register, it will initiate a formal rulemaking process as prescribed by Congress in the Controlled Substances Act,” a Justice Department statement said.

You can reach us at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and X.

A+
a-
  • Cannabis
  • Department of Justice
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • reclassification
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Justice

    June 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Justice Dept., FDA Announce Crackdown on Illegal E-Cigarette Sales

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration are the leads on a new multi-agency task force... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration are the leads on a new multi-agency task force intended to crack down on the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes. Also participating in the task force are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and... Read More

    May 23, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    Justice Dept. Sues Live Nation Alleging Antitrust in Ticket Sales

    NEW YORK — The Justice Department sued concert promoter Live Nation Thursday in one of the biggest antitrust enforcement actions... Read More

    NEW YORK — The Justice Department sued concert promoter Live Nation Thursday in one of the biggest antitrust enforcement actions of the Biden administration. The lawsuit accuses Live Nation and its Ticketmaster unit of inflating ticket prices and providing customers with poor service. Live Nation controls... Read More

    May 17, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    Justice Dept. Plans Reclassification of Cannabis to Less Dangerous Drug

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a recommendation for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to relax restrictions on... Read More

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a recommendation for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to relax restrictions on cannabis. "This is monumental," Biden said in a video announcement. "Today, my administration took a major step to reclassify [cannabis] from a Schedule 1 drug to... Read More

    GOP Advances Garland Contempt Charges After White House Exerts Executive Privilege Over Biden Audio

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House committees moved ahead Thursday with contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland for refusing to turn over... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House committees moved ahead Thursday with contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland for refusing to turn over audio from President Joe Biden’s interview with a special counsel, advancing the matter after the White House's decision to block the release of the recording earlier in... Read More

    Juror Dismissed in Trump Hush Money Trial as Prosecutors Ask for Former President to Face Contempt

    NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump asked Thursday for the former president to be held... Read More

    NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors in the hush money trial of Donald Trump asked Thursday for the former president to be held in contempt and fined because of seven social media posts that they said violated a judge's gag order barring him from attacking witnesses. Meanwhile, the jury... Read More

    Justice Department Blasts GOP Effort to Hold Attorney General Garland in Contempt Over Biden Audio

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday blasted Republicans' effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over his refusal... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday blasted Republicans' effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over his refusal to turn over unredacted materials related to the special counsel probe into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press,... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top