BREAKING: DEA Reportedly Agrees to Move Cannabis to Schedule III

The DEA has reportedly agreed to reschedule cannabis under Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, in accordance with the FDA’s recent recommendation. While this development could loosen financial restrictions for brands operating in state markets, advocates have pointed out that it does not resolve the ongoing social injustices surrounding cannabis criminalization, and that it could benefit larger corporate entities that are angling to dominate the market.

Full story after the jump.

In a landmark move, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has proposed reclassifying “botanical cannabis” from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance under the US Controlled Substances Act, as reported by the Associated Press. This decision, following an endorsement from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), marks a significant shift in federal drug policy, suggesting a reduced perception of cannabis’s danger and a recognition of its medical uses.

The reclassification initiative, first urged by the Biden Administration in October 2022, signifies the first presidential request of its kind. Schedule I substances, which include drugs like heroin, are defined by their high abuse potential and lack of accepted medical use. The move to Schedule III, which includes drugs like ketamine and anabolic steroids, recognizes that cannabis may be safely prescribed for medical use and possesses a lower potential for abuse.

Many in the cannabis industry have expressed relief at the prospect of loosening financial restrictions associated with the plant’s Schedule I status. However, others have pointed out potential issues related to Schedule III that could become problems for brands operating in state-legal markets, as well as the fact that Schedule III status does not inherently benefit those who are still incarcerated for cannabis-related convictions.

A statement from NORML highlighted that this change does not resolve the broader issues of conflict between federal and state cannabis laws. While acknowledging the shift as a step forward for federal recognition, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano emphasizes that true reform should bridge the divide between state regulations and federal policy, suggesting that cannabis should be removed from the Controlled Substances Act entirely.

The DEA will now enter a period of public comment and potential judicial review before issuing a final rule, which would take effect 30 days after publication. This process allows for further debate and adjustments based on public and stakeholder input. The decision could lead to further calls for Congress to establish new regulatory frameworks for cannabis, similar to recent actions regarding hemp-derived CBD products.

Editor’s note: this is a developing story. Please submit any insights/commentary to for inclusion in our expanded coverage.

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