DEA Plans Historic Move to Reclassify Cannabis as Schedule III, Report Suggests

In a groundbreaking shift, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under the Biden administration, is set to reclassify cannabis to Schedule III, recognizing its medical benefits, according to an Associated Press report. This historic move would mark the first time in 50 years that the federal government acknowledges cannabis’s therapeutic value, moving it away from its current classification as a substance with no accepted medical use.

The reclassification process requires a review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently recommended this change. Schedule I substances are federally prohibited due to their high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use.

A Historic Shift and Its Implications

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), highlighted the significance of this move. “While the DEA’s decision doesn’t go far enough, it’s the first time the agency acknowledges cannabis’s legitimate therapeutic utility, moving it out of the same category as heroin,” Armentano told High Times. However, he noted that this shift won’t fully resolve the disparity between federal and state cannabis laws.

Fifty Years Under Schedule I

Cannabis was placed in Schedule I over 50 years ago by the Nixon administration, influenced by stigma rather than science. This reclassification could be a pivotal step in ending the outdated war on drugs.

Leaders and Industry Reactions

Rep. Earl Blumenauer praised the move, noting it brings the country closer to ending the failed war on drugs. “Marijuana was scheduled based on stigma, not science,” Blumenauer stated, emphasizing the inevitability of cannabis legalization.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) expects this reclassification to alleviate the burden of tax code 280E, which prohibits tax deductions for cannabis businesses. Aaron Smith, CEO of NCIA, called the move “long overdue,” but stressed the need for further action to harmonize federal and state laws. He urged Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act entirely.

The Cannabis Industry’s Perspective

The US Cannabis Council (USCC) supports the DEA’s decision. Edward Conklin, USCC Executive Director, commended President Biden and his administration for recognizing the misclassification of cannabis and pursuing its reclassification. He emphasized that this step, based on a scientific review by the Food and Drug Administration, would be the most significant federal cannabis reform in modern history, paving the way toward federal legalization.

Industry Leaders Respond

Cannabis business leaders also lauded the DEA’s move. Matt Darin, CEO of Curaleaf, described it as a monumental development, reflecting evolving attitudes and recognizing cannabis’s therapeutic value. David Goubert, President & CEO of AYR Wellness, praised the alignment with science-backed recommendations.

The final decision now rests with the OMB at the White House, which will determine the fate of this historic reclassification.


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment