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An Overview of the Latest Marijuana Recommendation By a Key US Health Agency

Marijuana has long been classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law in the United States. As explained by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Schedule I classification is supposed to be for “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Of course, top scientific experts do not agree with marijuana’s classification. 

As of August of 2023, neither does the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The federal agency issued a public recommendation advising the DEA to reduce the classification of marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule III controlled substance. Here, you will find an overview of the latest marijuana-related recommendations from HHS.  

Understanding the Difference: What is a Schedule III Controlled Substance?

Whereas a Schedule I controlled substance is considered to be the worst type of drug by federal law, a Schedule III controlled substance is a much lower classification. Indeed, the Schedule III controlled substance is a category for substances that have a potential for moderate to low physical or psychological dependence and that also have some accepted medical uses. Consistent with many independent researches, the HHS now advises that this is the appropriate category for marijuana. 

Why It Matters: Major First Step in Easing Marijuana Regulation at the Federal Level 

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), the HHS’s recommendation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III controlled substance is a groundbreaking move in the evolution of cannabis regulation. Previously categorized under Schedule I—which, as previously noted, are supposed to be substances that have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The reclassification recognizes the medical value of cannabis and its lower potential for abuse relative to other drugs. It is a big change that could not only lead to major federal reforms, but also help to fortify already existing state-level protections for both medical and recreational marijuana. 

More Hurdles Must Be Cleared for Marijuana to be Rescheduled at the Federal Level  

While the HHS’s recommendation to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III controlled substance is a notable shift, there are several steps remaining before this change is cemented. Most notably, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would need to act on the recommendation. The process involves scientific evaluation, public commentary, and inter-agency collaboration. As of September of 2023, the DEA has not yet responded to the recommendation from the HHS. 

Of course, many proponents argue that marijuana should not just be reclassified, but de-scheduled entirely. De-scheduling would remove it from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, indicating it’s no longer subject to federal drug control measures. A significant number of U.S. states already also support the recreational use of marijuana. 

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At City Leaves, we are proud to be a leading provider of recreational cannabis products. The use of recreational marijuana has been linked to a number of different benefits—from reduced anxiety to better sleep. Please check out our products page to see what we currently have available!