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Easing Restrictions on Cannabis

On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the U.S. Justice Department announced plans to recommend easing restrictions on marijuana, kicking off a lengthy rule-making process that would represent a major change in federal policy. The proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OBM), would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. Once OMB signs off, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will take public comment on the plan to move marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It moves pot to Schedule III, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department. After the public comment period and a review by an administrative judge, the agency would eventually publish the final rule.

The federal government last looked at rescheduling marijuana at the end of the Obama administration. Ultimately, the DEA denied a petition to change marijuana’s classification, based on a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services.