The Department of Health and Human Services has formally recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration ease federal restrictions on marijuana, marking a significant step toward potential cannabis reform. Though marijuana is permitted for various uses in 40 states, it's still illegal at the federal level. Reports come after President Joe Biden recommended that the HHS review the drug's reclassification. Last year, the United States president proclaimed a presidential pardon for federal convictions for simple marijuana possession offenses.
Currently, the DEA categorizes cannabis alongside other drugs, including heroin and LSD, citing its potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use. Reclassifying it to Schedule III could have far-reaching implications, including the elimination of an IRS code preventing marijuana businesses from claiming tax deductions for ordinary expenses.
Now that the HHS's recommendation is on the table, the DEA holds the authority to reschedule cannabis. The Biden administration had aimed to announce this change around the one-year mark of review though the DEA's public review remains uncertain.
Advocates view this step as a recognition of marijuana's medical benefits by the federal government. Easing federal marijuana restrictions has become a bipartisan political issue, with both parties seeking to capitalize on it ahead of the next presidential election.
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