The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has officially recommended that marijuana be removed from Schedule I and reclassified under federal law as Schedule III, meaning it would no longer be considered a drug with a high abuse potential or no medical benefit, Marijuana Moment reports. A final decision rests with the Drug Enforcement Administration. That agency has long been opposed to reclassifying cannabis, but the scientific analysis underlying HHS's recommendation combined with growing political support for cannabis reform may influence DEA to make the change.
The potential reclassification could have both practical and political implications. Researchers would no longer have to register with the DEA in order to use cannabis for studies. For the industry, the new classification would allow federal tax deductions, which are currently banned for businesses selling Schedule I or II drugs. The prohibition has resulted in the cannabis industry facing significantly higher tax rates than other industries. Politically, moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III would allow the president to say that he’s helped accomplish a major reform, facilitating an administrative review that may result in rescheduling more than 50 years after cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category as the federal government launched a war on drugs. This could also bolster momentum for congressional efforts to further reform federal cannabis law.