According to a recent report from Marijuana Moment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued an official recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration calling for marijuana to be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III status in the federal Controlled Substances Act.
While this is a historic move in the effort to end cannabis prohibition, advocates at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) say rescheduling won't resolve many of the issues plaguing the market.
“Moving cannabis to schedule III could have some limited benefit, but does nothing to align federal law with the 38 U.S. states which have already effectively regulated cannabis for medical or adult use. The only way to fully resolve the myriad of issues stemming from the federal conflict with state law is to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate the product in a manner similar to alcohol," says NCIA CEO Aaron Smith.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I substance, alongside heroin, LSD, ecstasy and peyote. The status is reserved for drugs with high potential for abuse and no medical value. The nonbinding recommendation from the HHS at least acknowledges decades of scientific data suggesting Schedule I status for marijuana is inappropriate. Schedule III drugs include ketamine and anabolic steroids.
“The vast majority of Americans live in states with laws that depart from federal law on this issue and where thousands of regulated Main Street businesses are serving the legal cannabis market safely and responsibly," adds Smith. "It's long past time for congress to truly harmonize federal policy with those states.”
Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 23 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Medical cannabis laws have been passed in 38 states as well as several territories. Three in four Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in some form.