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DEA moves to reclassify marijuana, signals shift in federal drug policy

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In a significant win for advocates of drug policy reform, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has initiated steps to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance, marking a pivotal shift that could have far-reaching impacts on federal drug laws.

The Associated Press has reported that this proposed reclassification represents a substantial departure from decades of stringent drug regulations, potentially undoing the harmful effects of previous policies that treated marijuana akin to heroin and LSD.

Under the DEA’s proposal, marijuana would be repositioned alongside substances like ketamine and anabolic steroids in Schedule III, acknowledging its medical applications and recognizing its comparatively lower risk of abuse compared to more potent narcotics.

This policy evolution reflects President Biden’s directive in October 2022 to review federal marijuana laws, a move complemented by his decision to pardon thousands of individuals convicted of minor marijuana possession offenses.

While this shift does not equate to full legalization, it signals a crucial advancement toward reforming marijuana policies nationwide. The reported changes were corroborated by sources familiar with the DEA’s internal deliberations, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to evidence-based drug policy.

Advocates view this development as a landmark step toward rationalizing drug laws and mitigating the disproportionate impact of drug enforcement on marginalized communities. The potential reclassification underscores growing recognition of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits and challenges longstanding misconceptions about its safety profile.

The DEA’s initiative is poised to spark broader discussions on drug policy reform and could pave the way for further legislative actions aimed at decriminalization and eventual legalization.

The proposed reclassification holds implications not only for marijuana regulation but also for broader efforts to address drug-related challenges through a lens of public health and social equity.

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