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Rescheduling Marijuana for the First Time in Fifty Years

Marijuana Plant (Credits: Vox)

The White House and Department of Justice have declined to comment on a recent development regarding the rescheduling of marijuana, but a source familiar with the matter has confirmed the news, which the Associated Press first reported.

If enacted, the measure would not legalize marijuana. Still, it would instead reclassify it from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, a move that could have implications for the country’s drug policy.

Rescheduling marijuana is distinct from de-scheduling it entirely, which some advocacy groups and lawmakers have called for. While rescheduling would still allow for legal action to be taken against individuals found in possession of marijuana in states where it is not legal, it would also acknowledge that the drug has some accepted medical use and a lower potential for abuse.

Marijuana (Credits: Scientific American)

This decision could also give President Biden a boost among younger voters, who tend to support marijuana legalization. Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster and strategist, has previously stated that action on marijuana scheduling would signal that Biden is a “modern president.” Public opinion leans strongly in favor of marijuana legalization, with a recent Gallup poll finding that a record 70% of Americans support it.

A group of Democratic senators recently issued a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) calling for marijuana to be rescheduled entirely. Marijuana has been listed as a Schedule I drug for over 50 years, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Marijuana (Credits: The Seattle Times)

Schedule III drugs are considered to have a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Substances within this category include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has praised the move, stating that it would bring the U.S. one step closer to ending the “failed war on drugs.” “Marijuana was scheduled more than 50 years ago based on stigma, not science,” Blumenauer said. “The American people have made clear in state after state that cannabis legalization is inevitable. The Biden-Harris Administration is listening.”

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