Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) praised President Biden and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday after the department sent its recommendation to reschedule marijuana to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a key step in reducing federal regulations on the drug.
Biden asked the HHS to look into rescheduling last year, and the department’s recommendation now goes to the DEA, which has final say.
“Yesterday’s move is a massive win for the Biden administration and a strong step in the right direction on marijuana policy,” Fetterman said in a statement. “I’m glad to see that the administration agrees with what we have known for a while: marijuana should not be a Schedule I drug.”
“Moving marijuana from Schedule I will have huge benefits for people across Pennsylvania and this country, especially our veterans who rely on it as treatment for conditions like PTSD,” he continued.
Fetterman has been a longtime marijuana deregulation advocate since entering the Senate last year, including advocating for its legalization in Pennsylvania and working with the Biden administration to expand pardons for marijuana-related offenses.
Biden pardoned all federal marijuana possession convictions last year and urged governors to do the same for state offenses.
Schedule I regulation subjects drugs in the classification, such as heroin and cocaine, to the highest level of scrutiny. The regulation states that the drugs have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, marijuana is already legal for medical use in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
The drug is also recreationally legal in 23 states and D.C., and it has been decriminalized in many municipalities across the country.
The HHS recommendations state that marijuana should instead be a Schedule III drug, for substances with a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.”
Moving marijuana off Schedule I would also lower taxes for businesses selling the drug in states where it is legal, as the business can not currently take advantage of many tax deductions.
“But we should also be clear that we have been in this exact spot before, with science on the side of rescheduling, only to have the DEA and its destructive ‘War on Drugs’ mindset block reform,” Fetterman said. “That must not happen again.”
The DEA’s decision is expected to take up to a year, based on prior schedule change processes. The agency’s administrator told a House committee last month that she had “not been given a specific timeline” on decision-making.
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