President Biden Announces Federal Government Will Reschedule Cannabis in Landmark Decision

President Joe Biden has announced that the U.S. Department of Justice will officially reschedule cannabis, moving it from Schedule I, which is reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value, to Schedule III. This groundbreaking decision was revealed on April 30, as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirmed plans to reclassify cannabis under Schedule III, according to the Associated Press.

Historic Announcement and Reactions

President Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, shared the news through videos posted on social media.

“This is monumental,” Biden declared in a video on X. “Today, my administration took a major step to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug. It’s a significant move toward reversing longstanding inequities.”

Biden emphasized the administration’s efforts to pardon federal offenses for simple marijuana possession and to remove barriers to housing, employment, and small business loans for many Americans. He asserted, “No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

Vice President Harris highlighted the need for change, stating, “Currently, marijuana is classified on the same level as heroin and more dangerous than fentanyl. We are finally changing that.”

Broader Implications and Industry Reactions

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed that this recommendation validates the experiences of millions of Americans and thousands of physicians who recognize cannabis’s medical utility. However, he noted that this change does not fully align federal marijuana policy with the laws in most U.S. states, especially the 24 states where its use and sale are legal for adults.

Armentano added, “This policy change dramatically shifts the political debate surrounding cannabis. It delegitimizes many arguments historically used by opponents of marijuana policy reform.”

Next Steps and Challenges

The rescheduling announcement initiates a 60-day public comment period to gather input on the pros and cons of the Schedule III classification. Industry leaders, while optimistic, pointed out that reclassifying cannabis under Schedule III will not resolve all conflicts between federal and state laws.

Caleb Counts, CEO & Co-Founder of Connected Cannabis, remarked, “While rescheduling is a step in the right direction, there’s still more work to be done. This is a domino that needed to fall for broader changes we’ve long awaited.”

Roger Volodarsky, Founder and CEO of Puffco, cautioned that rescheduling alone might not drive additional research due to the DEA’s control over research approvals, emphasizing the need for complete descheduling of cannabis.

Christopher Louie, Co-Founder & CEO of Made in Xiaolin, voiced concerns about potential impacts on small businesses, wondering if new regulations would favor pharmaceutical companies.

Positive Responses and Future Outlook

Others praised the move as a positive step toward federal cannabis legalization. Vince Ning, co-founder and CEO of Nabis, appreciated the momentum this decision brings, while Brian Vicente, founder of Vicente LLP, highlighted the potential tax relief for cannabis businesses.

Aaron Smith, NCIA CEO & co-founder, called on Congress to enact legislation to protect the cannabis industry and align federal policies with state laws. “Rescheduling alone does not fix our nation’s state and federal cannabis policy conflict,” Smith stated.

A 60-day public comment period will allow for further input before the rule is finalized, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards federal cannabis reform.


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