Marijuana Meets Criteria for Reclassification as Lower-risk Drug

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The US State Department of Health and Human Services concluded that marijuana is less harmful than other dangerous drugs and that there is some evidence of its medical benefits in recommending loosening federal restrictions on the drug.

The agency on Friday released a 252-page review outlining the reasoning that the Food and Drug Administration used to come to this conclusion. It states that that “there exists some credible scientific support for the medical use of marijuana in at least one of the indications for which there is widespread current experience in the United States.”

This and the other findings of the review are a major departure in how the US federal government views cannabis.

For the last 60-plus years, cannabis has been classified as a Schedule I drug — the same as heroin — under the Controlled Substances Act, which means it’s a substance of high abuse potential and no accepted medical use.

The review was conducted at the request of President Joe Biden, who instructed HHS in an executive order issued in October 2022 to look through all available research on cannabis and recommend if the drug should be moved within the list of federally controlled drugs or removed from it altogether. Bloomberg first reported in August that HHS had recommended marijuana be moved to Schedule III, and the release of these documents on Friday confirms that.

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