May 17, 2024

DEA to Reschedule Marijuana

The DEA announced plans to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug.

Rescheduling marijuana would not make it legal for recreational use, as schedule III drugs are still controlled substances and subject to rules and regulations, and people who traffic in them without permission could still face federal criminal prosecution. However, the change in schedule would have major ramifications for a wide range of marijuana-focused debates.

Many states have ruled against the reimbursement of marijuana in workers’ comp, even in the presence of medical necessity as per their medical marijuana programs, as marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug created federal conflict. This change in schedule could remove that issue, meaning these precedents could be challenged.

Additionally, federal banking restrictions against marijuana as a Schedule I drug would no longer be a concern for processing such transactions.

Furthermore, marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug created many roadblocks for clinical research, but this change could allow for the proliferation of more research, which could further shape marijuana therapies.  

The DEA’s proposal must first be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, but it would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge that it has less potential for abuse than Schedule I drugs. Once the White House signs off on the proposal, the DEA will hold a 60-day public comment period, after which it will be reviewed by an administrative judge. After this, the DEA would publish the final rule.

The DEA’s proposal comes on the heels of recommendations by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FDA, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to reschedule marijuana.

In other news, Pennsylvania House Bill 2210 was introduced, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use, while also allowing medical marijuana patients to grow their own marijuana plants at home for personal use. If this bill were enacted, 25 states – half the nation – would allow for recreational marijuana.

Additionally, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed House Bill 149 into law, creating workplace protections for certain public sector employees regarding the use of medical marijuana. Such employees cannot be fired, disciplined, or discriminated against for the lawful use of medical cannabis oil. Employers can take disciplinary action against employees found to be impaired by marijuana while on the job. Law enforcement is excluded from this law, but firefighters, emergency service providers, and other civil servants would receive these protections.

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