DEA Head pledges to seek Federal Marijuana rescheduling review timeline from HHS
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anne Milgram, has committed to asking the US Department of Health and Human Services for a timeline in order to conduct a review of the federal marijuana rescheduling.
Pressed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R- FL) during the oversight hearing of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on July 27, in which Milgram testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, she informed the committee members that the agency has not been provided with a definite timeline to review marijuana's classification.
However, when Gaetz asked Milgram if she would request the timeline from the HHS, she said, "I will ask."
When U.S. President Joe Biden granted pardons to all individuals convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law last fall, he also requested the HSS and the Attorney General to review the current scheduling of marijuana under federal law.
But until now, the HHS has not yet submitted its review and recommendation to the DEA, according to Milgram.
This step is necessary for the DEA to conduct its own evaluation process and eventually reach a decision regarding the scheduling of marijuana.
However, MJBizDaily has recently reported that at least five states with medical marijuana programs have shared important data with U.S. health regulators for the Biden administration's review of removing marijuana from the federal list of dangerous drugs.
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Despite being legal for adult use in over 23 states and regulated for medical purposes in 38 states, marijuana remains listed as a Schedule I narcotic in the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it is considered to have no medical value and a high likelihood of being abused. Other substances in the same Schedule I category include heroin and LSD.
Gaetz raised the issue of research connecting state-level cannabis legalization and regulation to reduced rates of opioid prescriptions, asking Milgram if the DEA would consider this information in their final scheduling decision.
Milgram assured Gaetz that she would maintain an open mind and carefully review all the research. She also anticipated receiving further public comments and research, expressing her commitment to examining all relevant information before reaching a conclusion.
After Gaetz highlighted that removing marijuana from Schedule I would facilitate marijuana research, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) supported Gaetz's view, expressing frustration over the "governmental gibberish about marijuana" he heard from federal officials during his 17 years in Congress.
Cohen emphasized the importance of taking prompt action and humorously suggested reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to "420" (which refers to the popular association of "420" with marijuana culture) to simplify the process and humorously address the issue at hand.
If marijuana is rescheduled, it would shift from Schedule I to a less restrictive category. Moving it to Schedule III, IV, or V would have the significant benefit of exempting marijuana businesses from the burdensome Internal Revenue Code 280E. This change would lead to a considerably lower effective tax rate for businesses operating within the marijuana industry.
However, rescheduling is not the only approach available to the federal government for modifying the treatment of marijuana under federal law. An alternative option for the Biden administration is to deschedule the plant entirely, removing marijuana from the CSA.