Opinion: Results of Rescheduling Marijuana May Not Be What You ExpectPosted by On


Marijuana may finally have a new home under federal law. After a review requested by President Joe Biden, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended moving the legal status of marijuana to Schedule III. The Drug Enforcement Administration is now reviewing HHS’s recommendation, and the Food and Drug Administration just released research supporting the proposal.

Rescheduling may sound easy, but the results would not be what most people expect.

First, a look at where we are: Marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. That means, in the eyes of the federal government, it is highly addictive and has no medicinal value, and it is therefore completely illegal. Schedule III narcotics are what doctors typically prescribe. Moving marijuana to Schedule III has been thought of for years as “federal legalization,” but that is only partly true.

Federal marijuana legalization could come in two basic forms: rescheduling and de-scheduling. Rescheduling, or medical marijuana legalization, would change it from a Schedule I narcotic, completely illegal, to Schedule III, making it available through a prescription. De-scheduling, or federal recreational marijuana legalization, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate it separately, like alcohol.

Only rescheduling is on the table now, but it would come with some awkwardness. First, it likely would not be available in the forms current marijuana consumers are used to —…

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