WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services has moved to reclassify marijuana as less harmful than cocaine or heroin, a possible first step toward wider legalization, according to reports.
In a letter obtained by Bloomberg News, a Health and Human Services Department official wrote to Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram that marijuana should be classified as a schedule three substance, which consists of drugs “with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.”
It is currently a schedule one substance, which are drugs with no accepted medical use and have a “high potential of abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed they received the letter and said they would initiate its own review, Bloomberg reported.
President Joe Biden had asked Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal law last year.
He also had taken steps to ease the restrictions of marijuana last year, including announcing a pardon of all prior offenses for the possession of marijuana and urging governors to do the same in states.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday in a press briefing that both agencies are engaged in an “independent process” that is “guided by evidence.”
As of April, 38 states and the District of Columbia allow for the medical use of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 23 states and the District of Columbia, states have passed measures to regulate cannabis for adult non-medical use.