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The Impact of Marijuana Rescheduling on National Legalization

Marijuana Rescheduling Would Not Bring State Markets (Credits: The Hill)

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is expected to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a move that could have far-reaching implications across the country.

Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, deemed to have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, federal health officials have recommended reclassifying it as a Schedule III drug, recognizing its medical uses and lower potential for abuse.

Congressional Researchers Detail Limitations Of Marijuana (Credits: Reason Foundation)

If the DEA proceeds with the reclassification, marijuana would still be a controlled substance subject to federal rules and regulations. It would not be legalized for recreational use at the federal level, but it would acknowledge its medical benefits and make research easier. Additionally, companies in the cannabis industry would face lower federal taxes, as they could deduct expenses like other businesses.

The reclassification process involves a review by the White House Office of Management and Budget and a public comment period before the final rule is published. While 38 states have legalized medical marijuana and 24 have approved it for recreational use, federal prosecutions for simple possession have been rare in recent years.

However, loosening restrictions could have unintended consequences, such as increased regulation of cannabis dispensaries and potential conflicts with international treaty obligations.

The implications of federal cannabis rescheduling (Credits: NBC News)

Critics argue that reclassification would still keep marijuana under DEA regulation, requiring dispensaries to register and fulfill strict reporting requirements, which could be burdensome.

The US has international obligations to criminalize cannabis under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The DEA previously cited these obligations in denying a similar request to reschedule marijuana in 2016.

The proposed reclassification marks a major  shift, but its impact will depend on how it is implemented and the subsequent policies that follow.

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