Biden announces 'big step' toward marijuana reclassification

The Biden administration announced Thursday that it had initiated the formal rulemaking process to reschedule marijuana to Schedule III from the Schedule I designation it has had for more than 50 years.

This announcement follows the Department of Justice's announcement last month that, if planned, it would move forward with rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III, which the Department of Health and Human Services recommended last year.

“This is monumental. Today, my administration took an important step to reclassify marijuana from a schedule one drug to a schedule three drug. It is an important step toward reversing long-standing inequalities,” Biden said in a statement shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Today's announcement builds on the work we've already done to pardon a record number of federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana. And it adds to the action we've taken to remove barriers to housing, employment, small business loans and more for tens of thousands of Americans,” he added.

The rulemaking process includes opening the rule to public comment, an administrative hearing and final consideration by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Marijuana and drug policy experts were unimpressed with the White House's goal of recasting the rule, saying it does not go far enough to address the issues surrounding marijuana criminalization.

A Schedule III designation means that marijuana still carries potential penalties, although they will be less under a new categorization. Full decriminalization of marijuana could be achieved through Congress with legislation removing the drug from the Controlled Substances Act.

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