(CTN News) – In a significant development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recommended the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, signaling a potential shift in the federal government’s stance on cannabis.
The move comes after a review request from the Biden Administration, reflecting the changing attitudes toward Cannabis use.
With nearly 40 U.S. states having already legalized marijuana in varying capacities, this recommendation could pave the way for wider acceptance and potential federal legalization.
Changing Landscape of Marijuana Legalization
While marijuana usage has been legalized in almost 40 U.S. states, it remains illegal at the federal level and in some states.
The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, alongside substances like heroin and LSD, has long been a point of contention, especially given the growing body of evidence supporting its medicinal applications and relatively lower harm potential compared to other drugs in the same category.
HHS’s Scheduling Recommendation
The HHS has suggested reclassifying Cannabis, positioning it as less harmful than drugs like heroin. This reclassification would reflect its moderate to low potential for dependence and reduced abuse potential.
Under this recommendation, marijuana could be placed in a class alongside ketamine and testosterone, acknowledging its medical potential and potential benefits.
Process and Authorities
This recommendation was provided to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the body with the authority to schedule or reschedule drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. President Biden’s directive to the HHS initiated this process.
While the DEA has the ultimate authority to make scheduling decisions, the HHS’s scientific and medical evaluation provides crucial evidence for consideration.
Implications of Federal Reclassification
Should the federal classification of marijuana be eased, several significant changes could follow. First, major stock exchanges might list businesses involved in the cannabis trade, unlocking new investment opportunities.
Additionally, foreign companies could enter the U.S. market with their cannabis-related products. This shift could mirror the situation in Canada, where marijuana is legal and has given rise to a thriving cannabis industry.
Market Response and Industry Outlook
The news of the potential relaxation of marijuana restrictions led to a surge in the shares of various cannabis firms, including Canopy Growth, Tilray Brands, and Cronos Group.
Companies like Verano Holdings and Sunburn Cannabis expressed enthusiasm for the HHS’s move, considering it a long-awaited step toward rectifying the negative impacts of cannabis prohibition.
The HHS’s recommendation to ease marijuana restrictions marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate surrounding cannabis legalization in the United States. Federal reclassification could have far-reaching consequences with changing perceptions, growing evidence of its medical benefits, and the evolving landscape of state-level legalization.
As the DEA undertakes its review, the nation watches with anticipation to see if this step will pave the way for a more progressive approach to marijuana regulation, aligning with the views of most Americans and potentially reshaping the cannabis industry.