Top Biden administration officials recommended that marijuana be classified under the much less regulated Schedule III class of banned substances instead of its current Schedule I classification, in documents released to the public on Friday.
Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), sent a letter to Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), on Aug. 29, 2023, recommending that marijuana be moved from Schedule I, the harshest drug classification, to Schedule III under the Controlled Substance Act, according to the report.
The report found that marijuana had the potential to be used for a number of different medical conditions, especially for easing pain, while also claiming that the substance’s potential for abuse and public health risk was lower than other scheduled drugs.
“These evaluations demonstrate that there is consistency across databases, across substances, and over time that although abuse of marijuana produces clear evidence of a risk to public health, that risk is relatively lower than that posed by most other comparator drugs,” the report reads.
The report is the result of an executive order from President Joe Biden in October 2022, who asked HHS and the attorney general to review the classification of the substance, according to the report. The government has conducted four other reviews of marijuana since 2000, most recently in 2015, when it denied requests to ease the restrictions on the substance.
The decision on whether marijuana will be reclassified is expected in the coming months and will come from the DEA, according to Politico. Already, 24 states have legalized possession of the substance for adults, while 38 states have greenlit its use for medical programs, despite the drug still being federally restricted.
In the FDA’s review, it found that only 10% of substance use disorder admissions in 2020 were for marijuana, far lower than other Schedule I drugs like heroin or cocaine, according to the report. Similarly, only 10 to 20% of regular users of marijuana had a psychological dependence, which is lower than that of tobacco, opiates and even alcohol.
HHS did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.