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Biden administration starts process to reclassify marijuana in historic shift

At President Joe Biden’s urging, the Department of Justice has officially started the process to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug than most prescription painkillers and many addictive stimulants, ending decades of policy which treated it as having no acceptable medical use.

The department published a draft regulation in the Federal Register which would, if made final, place marijuana in the category known as Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III drugs are those that are known to have “a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances” in Schedule I — the category reserved for drugs with “no accepted medical use” and “a high potential for abuse” — and Schedule II, the category which includes highly addictive substances such as fentanyl and oxycodone.

Marijuana has been classified under Schedule I since the advent of the federal government’s modern drug regulation regime in the 1970s, and it has been banned under federal law since the since-overturned Marijuana Tax Act effectively outlawed its’ cultivation in the 1930s.

The Biden administration’s action, which Mr Biden announced in a video posted to social media, represents a historic shift in American drug policy as well as a significant step in his efforts to effect criminal justice reform.

“This is monumental,” Mr Biden said in the video. “Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it.”

The president had taken an initial step towards removing marijiuana from the Schedule I category in 2022, when he asked the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate whether it should remain in that category. An HHS report

Read more on independent.co.uk