US government proposes to reclassify marijuana as less dangerous drug in historic shift

"Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana," President Joe Biden said.

Keyla Supharta | May 18, 2024, 03:32 PM



The U.S. Justice Department in a historic shift on Thursday (May 16) announced its proposal to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, AP News, Reuters and Washington Post reported.

A proposed rule submitted to the Federal Register seeks to move cannabis from a schedule one drug to a schedule three, recognising its medical uses.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration defines Schedule One drugs, such as heroin, as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule Three drugs are defined as drugs with low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

The proposal will recognise the medical uses of marijuana but prohibits its recreational use.

Biden committed to "righting those wrongs"

The plan to reclassify marijuana was first revealed in April this year, but President Joe Biden initiated a review of the drug's classification as early as 2022.

"Far too many lives have been upended because of failed approach to marijuana," Biden said in a video posted on X (formerly Twitter).

"No one should be in jail merely for using or possessing marijuana. Far too many lives have been upended because of failed approach to marijuana, and I'm committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it."

Marijuana to remain Schedule One drug before final ruling is made

Before a final ruling is made on marijuana, the drug will continue to remain as a Schedule One controlled substance.

The proposal must be evaluated by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and subjected to a public comment period and a review from an administrative judge.

The public has 60 days to submit comments on the Justice Department's proposal and request for a public hearing on the proposal can also be submitted.

Top image via Aphiwat chuangchoem/Pexels.