Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeHealthThe US Justice Department takes action to decriminalize marijuana use.

The US Justice Department takes action to decriminalize marijuana use.

In a move that could upend cannabis laws across the country, the US Justice Department on Tuesday made marijuana use a less serious federal offense by removing the drug from the same category as heroin.

The stocks of cannabis companies, such as Green Thumb Industries, Trulieve Cannabis Corp., and Tilray, increased sharply.

Attorney General Merrick Garland suggested that cannabis be classified as a so-called schedule three drug, with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence, rather than schedule one, which is reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse, according to the Justice Department, which is in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Under federal law, the penalties for possessing and using narcotics classified as schedule three may be less harsh.

The White House Office of Management and Budget receives the proposal from the Justice Department for evaluation and finalization. There will thereafter be a time for public comments.

In 2022, Democratic candidate for reelection in November, Joe Biden, fulfilled a campaign pledge that was significant to his left-leaning supporters by starting a review of drug classification.

As of right now, the substance is categorized by the DEA with heroin and LSD. It would be transferred to a group that also includes codeine and ketamine.

A first step in bridging the gap between state and federal cannabis regulations is the reclassification of marijuana. Nearly 40 states have some kind of legalization for the drug.

Rearranging the drug’s schedule would not make it legal, but it would allow for greater study and medical applications, a reduction in the severity of criminal punishments, and an increase in private investment in the cannabis industry.

The Health and Human Services Department suggested rescheduling cannabis in August as part of Biden’s mandated review, which prompted the Justice Department to take action.

According to polling firm Gallup, public support for legalizing marijuana has increased from 25% of US citizens in 1995 to 70% in 2023.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Reclassification, according to analyst Owen Bennett of the Jefferies investment banking group, would raise the likelihood of complete federal legalization in five years.

In a statement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis expressed his “thrilledness” about the Biden administration’s plans to “correct decades of outdated federal policy.”

For many years, marijuana drug laws have disproportionately affected communities of color including African Americans. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, despite identical rates of marijuana smoking, black individuals are 3.6 times more likely than white persons to be arrested for possession of the drug.

The Pew Research Center reports that in 2020, the rates of marijuana consumption among White and Black Americans were almost equal. Even Nevertheless, although making up only 12 percent of the US population at the time, Black individuals accounted for 39 percent of all marijuana possession charges.

In their fight against Republican former president Donald Trump for reelection, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hope to increase Black voter support.

The US Food and Drug Administration, which is in favor of the reclassification, would be able to do more medical research thanks to the modification. Among other ailments, cannabis has been effectively used to treat epilepsy, spasticity, and pain.

A organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which is opposed to the “commercialization and normalization” of marijuana, announced that should the idea be approved, it would file a lawsuit. It stated that the majority of the change’s benefits will go to investors in the marijuana sector.

According to research, teens who use marijuana are more likely to not complete high school, have their brain development harmed, and suffer mental health issues like schizophrenia later in life.

A March study found no strong indication that legalizing marijuana sales to adults in the United States led to an increase in marijuana use among young teenagers.

Cannabis corporations stand to gain a great deal if federal law changed to relax marijuana’s categorization.
Major stock exchanges may list their shares, and the companies may be entitled for larger tax deductions.

They might also encounter less limitations from banks. Since most US banks do not lend to or service cannabis enterprises since marijuana is illegal on a federal level, many of them must rely on cash transactions. Some are now more susceptible to violent crimes as a result.

The action “is critical for state legal cannabis businesses to be treated with fairness… and to survive the threat the illicit market poses to the regulated market and public safety,” according to Executive Director Saphira Galoob of the National Cannabis Roundtable, which represents the cannabis industry.

The DEA’s suggestion for categorization was initially revealed by the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The head of the organization, Kevin Sabet, issued a statement saying, “This industry, which has lobbied heavily to sell demonstrably harmful products, will now use this announcement to drive even more deliberate misinformation about these high-potency drugs to expand use and addiction.”

Although states have set a minimum age of 21 for the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes, questions about how the proposed change would effect minors are sure to arise.

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