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Federal Marijuana Reform Is Likely, But Some Fear It Won't Be Enough

Next year the federal government will likely enact the most sweeping changes in decades to how it regulates marijuana. President Joe Biden’s administration is poised to move the substance from the most restrictive Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, to Schedule III, a move that would lessen the tax burden on businesses selling the drug in states where it is legal, and potentially change how police agencies view enforcement of marijuana laws, the Guardian reports.  “If it’s going to be finalized at schedule III, it’s going to be the moment that the industry really is able to turn the corner and we begin to see the growth in the cannabis space amongst the legal operators that we’ve been waiting on for so long,” said David Culver, senior vice-president of public affairs for the US Cannabis Council, a trade group.


But the move wouldn’t resolve the underlying conflict between federal and local law in states that have legalized the substance, in whole or in part. 38 states have approved its use for medical conditions, and 24 states and the District of Columbia allow adults to also consume it recreationally. The conflict between the law in those states and federal law where it is treated like heroin and ecstasy has complicated the marijuana industry, and advocates say it needs to be descheduled altogether. “It needs to be descheduled for logistical reasons, for practical reasons, because we have a system right now where the majority of states are choosing to regulate marijuana as a legal commodity through their own state-specific systems, and that act is not permitted for any substance that is in the CSA,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). 

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