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US Justice Department To Reclassify Marijuana: Major Shift In American Drug Policy

The U.S Drug Enforcement Administration proposed to reclassify Marijuana as a Schedule III drug on Tuesday. The proposal only seeks to popularize Marijuana’s medical benefits and condemns its usage for recreational purposes.

For centuries, marijuana, alongside heroin and LSD, was classified as Schedule I, leading to a more strict regulation policy. People who were caught possessing marijuana had to serve time in Prison for up to 1 year. But that’s about to change after Tuesday’s proposal by the US DEA to move Marijuana from the Schedule I list of drugs to Schedule III.

The proposal states that Marijuana has important medical benefits and should be used in the medical industry to cure diseases. The current law restricts the scope of research to be done on Marijuana. Hopefully, as the new law passes, researchers will be free to conduct more in-depth research on the drug and find new ways to include it in the medical sector.

However, it will take a while for the reclassification to be enforced. The White House Office of Management and Budget will review the proposal next following a public comment period. The buzz for marijuana reclassification first started in Oct 2022, when Joe Biden decided to pardon thousands of U.S. citizens convicted of possessing marijuana.

He famously said, “Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It's time that we right these wrongs." According to critics, this move might help Biden gain votes from youngsters in the upcoming election. 

Nonetheless, nothing will change for people who are already behind bars based on the charges of trafficking marijuana. David Culver, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Cannabis Council, told journalists, “Put simply, this move from Schedule I to Schedule III is not getting people out of jail.”

Federal Health and Human Services Department disagreed with comments saying the reclassification could increase the recreational use of Marijuana. Ketamine, anabolic steroids, and acetaminophen-codeine combinations are also schedule II drugs and are highly controlled substances. In fact, you would have to undergo federal criminal prosecution for trafficking these substances.

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