Biden announces 'major step' toward reclassifying marijuana

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The Biden administration announced Thursday it had initiated the formal rulemaking process to reschedule marijuana to Schedule III from its Schedule I designation that it has held for over 50 years.

This announcement follows the Department of Justice’s announcement last month that if planned to proceed with rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III which the Department of Health and Human Services had recommended last year.

“This is monumental. Today my administration took a major step to reclassify marijuana from a schedule one drug to a schedule three drug. It’s an important move toward reversing long-standing inequities,” Biden said in a statement shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.  

“Today’s announcement builds on the work we’ve already done to pardon a record number of federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana. And it adds to the action we’ve taken to lift barriers to housing, employment, small business loans, and so much more for tens of thousands of Americans,” he added.

The rulemaking process includes opening the rule up to comments from the public, an administrative hearing and final consideration from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Marijuana and drug policy experts were underwhelmed by the White House’s aim of rescheduling, saying it doesn’t go far enough to address the issues surrounding marijuana’s criminalization. 

A Schedule III designation will mean marijuana will still carry potential penalties, though these will be lesser under a new categorization. Complete decriminalization of marijuana could be accomplished through Congress with legislation removing the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. 

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