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The Biden Administration to Significantly Relax Marijuana Regulations • Nevada Current

The Biden administration plans to remove marijuana from a list of the most dangerous and highly regulated drugs, the Justice Department said Tuesday evening.

The Drug Enforcement Administration will propose moving the drug from a Schedule I substance, which also includes heroin and methamphetamine, to Schedule III, the category for controlled but legal drugs including testosterone and Tylenol with codeine.

“Today, the Attorney General circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III,” DOJ spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement to States Newsroom. “Once published by the Federal Register, it will initiate a formal rulemaking process as directed by Congress in the Controlled Substances Act.”

Cannabis has been listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act since 1971, even though many states have been legalizing recreational use for more than a decade and medicinal use for even longer.

State-legal marijuana businesses are a multibillion-dollar industry, but the drug’s illegal status under federal law creates barriers not seen by other industries, including a lack of access to banking and the inability to deduct business expenses from taxes.

Social justice advocates have also noted that prosecutions for marijuana-related crimes have harmed communities of color. Many of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses have not benefited from recent decriminalization in many states.

Moving cannabis to Schedule III would allow for a more permissive approach to the drug, including allowing more research into medicinal uses and allowing related businesses to take advantage of a common tax deduction.

Congressional leaders on the issue and other proponents of changing marijuana’s status welcomed the news Tuesday afternoon, even as they called for further action.

“For more than 50 years, marijuana has been treated the same as significantly more dangerous and harmful drugs like heroin and methamphetamines, despite having fewer adverse effects than alcohol,” Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said in a statement. “I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to reclassify the drug in a way that allows researchers to more easily study the uses and benefits of medical marijuana. This decision would also allow legal cannabis businesses, like those in Nevada, to operate with significantly less tax burden and contribute more to local economies.”

“It’s great news that the DEA is finally recognizing that restrictive and draconian cannabis laws must change to respond to what science and the majority of Americans have been saying loud and clear,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. in a statement.

The New York Democrat added that other legislation is still needed, including bills to give cannabis companies better access to banking and to ban the drug entirely.

“Congress must do everything we can to end federal prohibition on cannabis and address the long-lasting harm caused by the war on drugs,” he said.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat who was the state’s governor when Washington and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use in 2012, said the news was welcome but did not go far enough.

“Rescheduling marijuana is a step in the right direction. But – just one step,” he posted to X. “Marijuana should be eliminated altogether.”

The state’s current governor, Jared Polis, also a Democrat, applauded the move in a written statement.

“I am thrilled with the Biden administration’s decision to begin the process of finally rescheduling cannabis, following Colorado and 37 other states that have already legalized it for medical or adult use, overcoming decades of obsolete federal policies are corrected,” Polis said.

“This action is good for Colorado businesses and our economy, it will improve public safety and support a more just and equitable system for all.”

The American Cannabis Council, a business group, welcomed the expected change.

The move was based on research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and would have numerous benefits for businesses, Executive Director Edward Conklin said in a written statement.

The update would put marijuana on a path toward full legalization and make it easier for state-legal businesses to conduct profitable operations, he said.

“The move to Schedule III represents a tectonic shift in our nation’s drug laws. The U.S. Cannabis Council is committed to ending federal cannabis prohibition, and we believe reclassification is a necessary and critical step toward that goal,” he wrote. “In the coming days, we will submit comments to the DEA in support of the proposed rule.”

Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.